The government is cracking down on “corrosive” leaks of “sensitive information” ahead of the Brexit negotiations.
In an official memo to Whitehall mandarins, itself leaked to the Mail on Sunday, Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood revealed that serious leaks would be met with sackings.
“Anyone found to have leaked sensitive information will be dismissed even where there is no compromise of national security,” he said.
Prime Minister Theresa May was said to be “writing in similar terms to ministers”.
Leaking information is a common means of politicians discreetly sharing information with journalists that the press would otherwise be unable to access.
Heywood said rules governing the use of “official technology” for “official business”, such as work mobile phones, would be “strictly enforced” under the new regime.
He said the Cabinet Officer Government Security Team would be leading investigations on his behalf into the release of embargoed information.
“We need to obtain phone and email logs quickly, ensure staff are available for interview and touch disciplinary measures when a culprit has been identified to show leaking will never be tolerated,” he said.
On the culture of leaking, Heywood told civil servants: “Leaking is corrosive and undermines trust and good government.
“Leaks are never acceptable by the regularity and cumulative impact of recent incidents means we must now collectively take exceptional action.
“The Prime Minister has directed that we urgently tighten security processes and improve our response to leaks.
“She has instructed that we begin this work immediately and expects to see rapid and visible improvement.”