Clumsy Civil Servant In Security Cockup

Dean Nicholas
By Dean Nicholas Last edited 127 months ago
Clumsy Civil Servant In Security Cockup
Secret document

We know the various London freesheets aren't exactly worthy of much attention on the commute home. But if you're going to peruse your work on the journey, it's wise to do as the announcer says and "take all personal belongings with you" when alighting - particularly if your work relates to, say, confidential and highly sensitive material.

That's exactly what a clutzy civil servant from the Cabinet Office didn't do, when he left a top-secret document containing intelligence on al-Qaeda and Iraq on a commuter train. The document, which should not have left Whitehall, was abandoned on a train departing from Waterloo on Tuesday by the unnamed official. It was discovered by another passenger, who handed it onto the BBC from where it was given to the police. The official has been suspended.

According to the BBC, the document was labelled "UK Top Secret" and reportedly contained "details of names of individuals or locations which might have been useful to Britain's enemies." Not really the kind of material you want being disseminated across the country, in other words. Naturally, an inquiry will be launched, and it's a cert that "lessons" will be "learned" and vague promises made about this sort of thing "not being acceptable".

Security bungles seem to swarm around the Brown government like "no-win-no-fee" lawyers around a casualty ward. In the past six months we've had lost HMRC data, learner driver details vanishing into thin air, and a missing MoD laptop - lost, in the kind of locale unlikely to be featured in the new James Bond novel, at a McDonalds in Birmingham.

Coming at a juncture where parliament has barely scraped by in the 42-day detention vote, yet another serious security blowup does nothing to inspire confidence in governmental competence.

Image courtesy of Vic's Flickrstream under the Creative Commons license

Last Updated 12 June 2008