Sir Oliver Letwin Under Fire For Saying 'Some Autistic Person' Could Bring Down Global Networks

Listeners have slammed the former cabinet minister's "offensive" comments on the Today programme.

Former Tory cabinet minister Sir Oliver Letwin has come under fire after saying on live radio that global networks could be attacked by “some autistic person”.

His comments came during an interview on BBC Radio 4′s Today programme about his new book, Apocalypse How?, which is set in 2037 and explains how the world is moving towards becoming dependent on “one network”.

“If that network goes down, everything we rely on stops,” Letwin said during the interview on Wednesday.

“There are so many ways these networks could be attacked,” he said, arguing that technology is vulnerable to changes in nature and terrorist attacks.

Former Cabinet minister Sir Oliver Letwin outside Number 10
Former Cabinet minister Sir Oliver Letwin outside Number 10
ASSOCIATED PRESS

“Or in fact just some autistic person or some strange youth sitting in some place in the world who is connected to our network by the internet, who gets in and does something.

“And my point therefore is – you can’t have perfect protection,” he added, calling for an “analogue fallback” to global systems.

Letwin’s comments sparked anger among listeners, who called him “offensive” and accused him of “perpetuating myths” about autistic people.

One listener tweeted: “Just heard ex-minister Sir Oliver Letwin on R4 describing his novel Apocalypse How and saying that ‘it would only take some autistic person or strange youth to ...’ to attack the network.

“Am livid! The dismissive way he referred to autistic people is offensive.”

Letwin was an MP for the Conservative Party between 1997 and 2019, before becoming an independent in September. He did not stand in December’s general election.

During his time on the Tory benches, he served as the chancellor for the Duchy of Lancaster and as a minister for government policy.

In a statement, Letwin said: “I am very sorry that this caused unintended offence. I intended my remark solely as a reference to a particular, well known case of computer hacking by a particular individual, and not in any sense as a reference to autism in general.”