12/06/2008

Official Suspended For Leaving Top Secret Files On Train

A senior Cabinet Office employee has been suspended after leaving top-secret files on a commuter train.

An inquiry had been launched to establish how widely the files have been circulated.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown has called the incident "very serious".

Mr Brown said at his regular Downing Street press conference that "any breach of intelligence cannot be condoned".

It is expected that Cabinet Minister Ed Miliband will make a statement in the Commons.

It is understood that the two documents concerned, which have been marked as 'Secret' relate to al-Qaeda's activity in Pakistan and the security situation in Iraq.

It is reported that the documents were left in an orange envelope on a train from London to Surrey.

The first document relating to al-Qaeda was so sensitive that each page was marked: "For UK, US, Canadian and Australian eyes only".

It is understood that the documents were handed into a local BBC station.

Liberal Democrat Shadow Home Secretary, Chris Huhne said the incident "beggars belief".

"This is an appalling breach of security, which suggests that procedures on such sensitive matters are lax to the point of utter carelessness.

"There should be strict guidelines about when such secret documents are outside carefully monitored premises," he said.

Home Office Minister Tony McNulty has told the BBC that it would have been "very very bad" if the documents had ended up on the internet.

"These are operational documents that if released in that fashion would tell our enemies things that we don't want our enemies to know," he said.

The actual taking of the papers from Whitehall by the unnamed employee constituted a serious breach of rules.

The incident is being investigated by Scotland Yard.

(DS)




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