National security not ‘damaged’ by forgotten files

A GOVERNMENT security breach involving secret documents that were left on a London commuter train has not jeopardised national security interests, British officials said yesterday.

The breach was traced to a senior intelligence official who has been suspended pending an inquiry.

“There is no evidence to suggest that our vital national security interests have been damaged or any individuals or operations have been put at risk,” Foreign Secretary David Miliband said, but admitted, “They are sensitive, high-level intelligence assessments.”

The documents assessing al-Qaida’s vulnerabilities and the capabilities of Iraq’s security forces were discovered by a passenger on a London commuter train on Tuesday. The passenger passed the files to the BBC.

“There can scarcely have been a graver breach of intelligence and security procedures than this,” said Francis Maude, a spokesman for the Conservative Party.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown promised a full investigation: “We will have to trace where these documents have gone, if they have gone anywhere, apart from in an envelope to a local BBC station.”

The BBC said, on legal advice, it could not reveal the documents’ contents.

At least one page of the documents was stamped June 5, indicating the assessments were recent.

The security breach is the latest in a string of government data losses.

A computer containing sensitive details on 600,000 prospective military recruits was snatched from the car of a Royal Navy recruitment officer in January.

Tax officials last year lost computer disks containing information on nearly half the British population.


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