'He gives a good bollocking': Minister reacts to defence sec being target of hoax call

18 March 2022, 08:27 | Updated: 18 March 2022, 08:47

By Sophie Barnett

James Heappey has told LBC the Defence Secretary Ben Wallace can "dish out a good bollocking" after he was targeted by a "dirty" imposter pretending to be the Prime Minister of Ukraine.

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Speaking to LBC's Nick Ferrari at Breakfast the Armed Forces minister said his boss was "pretty cross" following the hoax call - thought to have been made by a Russian imposter.

It comes after an imposter posing as Ukraine's Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal managed to speak to the British Defence Secretary on Microsoft Teams.

"He, I think, was embarrassed that it had happened, and he has asked some pretty tough questions to the department about how it happened," Mr Heappey explained.

Read more: 'Dirty tricks': Imposter posing as Ukraine PM manages to call UK defence secretary

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Nick replied: "When you say he was pretty cross I'm glad I wasn't on the receiving end of a pretty cross Ben Wallace, minister.

"Yep, yep, you and me both."

"That would be incoming, I think you would call that, incoming fire," Nick said.

"He can dish out a good bollocking when he needs to," said Mr Heappey.

He explained that the Defence Secretary "instinctively understands threat" and is always aware of the communication platform he is on, having been a security minister for years.

Mr Wallace ended the call after he was asked "several misleading questions" and became suspicious they were not Denys Shmyhal.

It raises security questions given someone managed to get as far as speaking with Mr Wallace when they weren't who they claimed to be.

"Today an attempt was made by an imposter claiming to be Ukrainian PM to speak with me," Mr Wallace said on Thursday.

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"He posed several misleading questions and after becoming suspicious I terminated the call.

"No amount of Russian disinformation, distortion and dirty tricks can distract from Russia's human rights abuses and illegal invasion of Ukraine. A desperate attempt."

Mr Wallace ordered an investigation into the security breach after Priti Patel said the same thing happened to her earlier this week.

She said: "This also happened to me earlier this week."

Pathetic attempt at such difficult times to divide us. We stand with Ukraine."

Mr Wallace and Ms Patel did not reveal what was discussed or claim who was behind it, though they appeared to be pointing the finger at Russia.

The security concern comes as Russia's war enters its third week, with Mr Heappey explaining it's "overly optimistic" to think combat will end soon.

He said Vladimir Putin's war "isn't going well" but it is too soon to become complacent.