Westminster honey trap scandal: Rishi Sunak warns of international ‘bad actors’

LONDON — Rishi Sunak told MPs to be vigilant of attempts to undermine British democracy as the Westminster honey trap sexting scandal rumbles on.

“There’s lots of bad actors, as we’re seeing around the world, who are trying to cause damage to our democratic processes,” the prime minister told LBC.

POLITICO first revealed last week that MPs, staffers, and journalists in Westminster have been targeted with alluring WhatsApp messages from two unknown phone numbers that, in several cases, escalated to the sender sending explicit images.

To date, POLITICO has verified directly that at least 21 people in U.K. politics were sent unsolicited WhatsApp messages by one or both of two phone numbers, which alternatively used the names “Charlie” or “Abi.” Among those targeted are Labour and Tory MPs, including a serving minister in the U.K. government. The origin of the messages remains unknown.

At least two police forces, in London and Leicestershire, are investigating the scandal. Sunak urged people to “let the police investigations run their course.”

The prime minister’s remarks come after Hazel Grove MP William Wragg quit the Tory whip Tuesday night after leaking the personal phone numbers of a number of MPs.

“It’s a good reminder to everyone, but particularly those in public life, to obviously be careful about unsolicited messages they get,” Sunak said Wednesday when pressed on Wragg’s exit.