Stephen Parkinson, a staff member for British Prime Minister Theresa May, has outed his fellow Brexit campaigner Shahmir Sanni through an official statement from the office of 10 Downing Street, the headquarters of the UK's government.
The release, on behalf of Parkinson, reads: "Shahmir became an occasional volunteer for Vote Leave and other leave campaigns, and we began a personal relationship. We subsequently dated for 18 months, splitting up--I thought amicably--in September 2017."
The outing through official government documentation appears to be an attempt to distract media from startling facts Sanni had revealed about questionable, if not outright illegal, campaign strategies on behalf of the pro-Brexit group Vote Leave, for which Parkinson and Sanni had both been campaigners. The new Downing Street release appears to be responding to a revealing interview in The Guardian from Sanni detailing the group's lawbreaking on the campaign trail.
Sanni had not been publicly out, and the government release now puts his family back in Pakistan, where certain acts of homosexuality are illegal, in danger.
In a statement from his lawyer, Sanni's team says they believe this to be "the first time a Downing Street official statement has been used to out someone" and that "My client is now having to come out to his mother and family tonight, and members of his family in Pakistan are being forced to take urgent protective measures to ensure their safety."
Theresa May has said in a statement through her office that she has "full confidence" in her advisor Stephen Parkinson.