The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is investigating an alleged data breach following the publication of pictures of former Secretary Matt Hancock kissing an aide in his office.
The leaked CCTV images, revealed by the Sun newspaper last month, led to Mr Hancock resigning after he admitted breaching social distancing rules.
The ICO has seized computers and other electronic equipment for its inquiry.
It said Whitehall workers needed to have confidence over data protection.
The Sun’s editor, Victoria Newton, has said she would rather go to prison than reveal the source of the pictures, which she has said were given to the paper by an “angry whistleblower”.
Mr Hancock, who is married with three children, resigned on 27 June after the images of him kissing his long-time friend and former aide Gina Coladangelo were published two days earlier.
His relationship with the married mother-of-three is understood to serious, with Mr Hancock having ended his own 15-year marriage.
The ICO said the Department of Health and Social Care and the security and property management firm Emcor had submitted a complaint over the use of the CCTV stills, alleging they had been taken without permission.
Officers searched two homes in southern England on Thursday, seizing personal computer equipment and electronic devices.
Steve Eckersley, the ICO’s director of investigations, said: “It’s vital that all people, which includes the employees of government departments and members of the public who interact with them, have trust and confidence in the protection of their personal data.
“In these circumstances, the ICO aims to react swiftly and effectively to investigate where there is a risk that other people may have unlawfully obtained personal data. We have an ongoing investigation and will not be commenting further until it is concluded.”
After the pictures were published, concerns were raised over security within government buildings.
Justice Secretary Robert Buckland said he had asked for his own office to be swept for “unauthorised devices”, telling Sky News this was to prevent any chance of a “national security breach”.
But Ms Newton wrote in the New Statesman magazine last month that the use of the pictures had been “a serious piece of responsible journalism about a cabinet minister potentially breaking the law, and behaving with extraordinary hypocrisy”.
Department of International Relations and European Studies https://www.ibu.edu.ba/department-of-international-relations-and-european-studies/