Intelligence services are determined that a civil servant arrested on suspicion of leaking of diplomatic cables sent by the British ambassador to the US is dragged through the courts.
The official in the Department for International Trade was arrested last Tuesday and questioned for 30 hours before being released, pending further investigation.
Security services say they believe he is responsible for the leaks that led to the resignation of Lord Darroch and believe he will be charged with breaching the Official Secrets Act and misconduct in a public office. If found guilty, they want to see him made an example of and want to scotch any suggestion he was a whistle-blower.
The confidential memos, which were highly critical of Donald Trump, were leaked to Steve Edginton, a journalist who had worked for the Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage.
But in a twist, Mr Farage said on Sunday night the arrest of Mr Edginton’s source had been deliberately timed to divert attention from a separate story, written by Mr Edginton and published in The Sun on Saturday, which in turn accused Lord Darroch of leaking stories to a US television journalist.
Mr Farage said authorities were aware of the story being worked on by Mr Edginton and ordered the civil servant’s arrest as a consequence in the days before it was published.
“The pressure being put on Steve Edginton and the civil servant were huge and I don’t believe the arrest is coincidental in terms of timing,” said Mr Farage, adding: “It seems the Establishment are working to protect themselves. The arrest is a classic diversionary tactic by the authorities with the Foreign Office working closely with the security services.”
Michelle Kosinski, who until recently was CNN’s senior diplomatic correspondent, said “sensitive” details she learnt about the Trump administration did not come from Lord Darroch.
She also said The Sun had published “incorrect information about my private life” in relation to claims of an alleged relationship with Lord Darroch and that such allegations were “nonsense” and “unacceptable”.
On Sunday, the Metropolitan Police confirmed the arrest of the civil servant.
Reports suggest he has been suspended on full pay pending the outcome of the police inquiry.
Scotland Yard said: “On October 13, officers from the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command arrested a man in the London area on suspicion of offences under the Official Secrets Act and misconduct in a public office. The man was taken to a police station and was subsequently released on police bail to a date in mid-November. Inquiries continue.”
The investigation began last summer when Lord Darroch’s confidential memos which branded the Trump administration “inept” and “uniquely dysfunctional” were published in The Mail on Sunday. It triggered a criminal inquiry into a breach of the Official Secrets Act led by counter-terrorism police and aided by MI5, GCHQ and MI6. Security sources have told this newspaper that after a 15-month investigation, the intelligence agencies are confident there is sufficient evidence to bring the civil servant to court and that it was important that, if found guilty, he is exposed not least to deter future leaks of confidential information.
Mr Edginton told friends he believed his emails were hacked by authorities and his telephone bugged in the hunt for the mole. It is understood that he has not been questioned by police over his handling of the diplomatic cables.