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U.K. Lawmaker Admits Giving Out Colleagues’ Numbers in ‘Honey Trap’ Scandal

The messages targeted politicians, advisers and journalists. Some of them struggled to remember ever having met the sender. The texts had accurate personal information and soon got flirtatious. Some came with an explicit image.

For several days, mystery surrounded the unsolicited WhatsApp messages that gripped British politics. The news media reported that two legislators had replied by texting back images of themselves.

On Friday, a prominent Conservative lawmaker, William Wragg, owned up to his unwitting role in what is being called the “honey trap” scandal, admitting that he had given the phone numbers of fellow members of Parliament to someone he had met on Grindr, a gay dating app.

Mr. Wragg handed over the information, he told The Times of London, because he was scared that the man “had compromising things on me.” Mr. Wragg apologized and acknowledged that his “weakness has caused other people hurt.”

About a dozen individuals are thought to have received the messages, initially reported by Politico, which were sent by someone identified as “Charlie” or “Abi” to men (some gay, some straight), including one government minister.

The furor has raised questions both about the behavior of British lawmakers and their safety online. One British police department has started an investigation, and the speaker of the House of Commons, Lindsay Hoyle, has written to legislators warning them about their cybersecurity.

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