Jeremy Hunt has defended the right of the press to publish leaks after the Metropolitan Police urged news services to hand over the information.
The Conservative leadership hopeful has spoken out after the resignation of the UK’s ambassador to the US.
Sir Kim Darroch’s emails, in which he said the Trump administration was “inept”, were released to the Mail on Sunday last weekend.
Assistant commissioner Neil Basu, who is investigating allegations of criminal breaches of the Official Secrets Act, urged the media not to publish leaked information but to instead hand it to police.
Mr Hunt wrote on Twitter on Saturday: “These leaks damaged UK/US relations & cost a loyal ambassador his job so the person responsible MUST be held fully to account.
“But I defend to the hilt the right of the press to publish those leaks if they receive them & judge them to be in the public interest: that is their job.”
Mr Basu asked the person behind the leaks to turn themselves in and avoid wasting detectives’ time, saying: “You can stop this now.
“Turn yourself in at the earliest opportunity, explain yourself and face the consequences.”