Whitehall security scare after discovering that a CCTV unit in its London HQ was made by a controversial Chinese firm Hikvisionv
- The Home Office had a security scare after it found Chinese CCTV in London HQ
- Bosses discovered a CCTV unit was made by a controversial firm from China
- The firm allegedly allowed its tech to be used in the repression of Uighurs
Bosses at the Home Office faced a security scare after discovering that a CCTV unit in its London HQ was made by a controversial Chinese firm, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.
The camera, thought to be in the lobby of its Marsham Street building and outwardly branded as Honeywell, is being replaced.
It was made by the partly state-owned Dahua, which is blacklisted by US authorities from selling cameras to national authorities. The ban, which was imposed in 2019, also applies to another Chinese surveillance firm, Hikvision.
Both companies’ technology has allegedly been used in the repression of the Muslim Uighurs in China. US authorities also fear the firms are a national security concern because of their links to the Chinese state, claims that are denied by their bosses.
The Home Office discovery comes after the British Government failed to sanction a proposal by MPs to ban the companies. A revised camera surveillance code was brought before Parliament last week but failed to include a human rights clause blocking the purchase of equipment from firms linked to human rights abuses.
Chinese CCTV camera firm, Hikvision has been implicated in surveillance of the persecuted Muslim Uighur population (File image)
A contract for the firm’s cameras shows they are used in at least one Uighur ‘re-education camp’. Pictured: A facility believed to be a ‘re-education’ camp in China’s northwestern Xinjiang region
Last week, Justin Hollis, Hikvision’s UK boss, sent a gloating letter to suppliers marked ‘confidential’ that trumpeted the failure to get the ban passed. He wrote: ‘We are delighted that in making this decision, the UK Government has been led by facts, not politics.
‘This is good news for all businesses across the country who turn to Hikvision’s video surveillance products and security solutions to protect their property, employees, customers and loved ones.’
But Fraser Sampson, Britain’s Biometric and Surveillance Camera Commissioner, said: ‘The Government has recognised what’s happening in China and they’ve recognised the need for guidance – plus, there’s a Bill next year on public procurement which will deal with these issues.
‘I don’t understand how this is a victory for Hikvision. I find it extraordinary that they claim to be celebrating good news but mark it [the letter] as confidential.’
Conservative MP Tom Tugendhat, chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, said: ‘I struggle to see how the continued use of Hikvision cameras in the public sector is in Britain’s interest.
‘We have credible evidence that Hikvision cameras were installed in Xinjiang internment camps.
‘CCTV cameras play a critical role in our lives. We shouldn’t be dependent on a company which relies on the backing of an authoritarian state.’
Last night, the Home Office said it would not comment on security. Dahua did not respond to a request for comment, while Hikvision declined to comment.