Senior intelligence official suspended after leaving top secret files on train

Friday, June 13, 2008

A senior intelligence official in the United Kingdom has been suspended from his job pending an investigation into top secret documents that were left on a commuter train on Tuesday. The Cabinet Office confirmed that the documents, including reports on Al-Qaeda and Iraqi security forces, had been found on the train and handed in to the offices of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), who turned the files in to police.

According to the BBC, one of the documents, a seven-page report entitled "Al-Qaeda Vulnerabilities", was classified "UK Top Secret" and had every page numbered and labelled "for UK/US/Canadian and Australian eyes only". The other document, "Iraqi Security Forces: More or Less Challenged?", had been commissioned by the Ministry of Defence, which the BBC's security correspondent, Frank Gardner, described as being "damning" in parts. Both were produced by the Joint Intelligence Committee, a government organisation designed to present information from several British intelligence services to ministers and senior officials.

The person believed to be responsible for the breach works for the Cabinet Office's intelligence and security unit, which contributes to the Joint Intelligence Committee. He had authority to take classified documents out of the Cabinet Office, under strict security procedures. The Metropolitan Police are investigating the incident, which the Conservative Party's security spokeswoman, Dame Pauline Neville-Jones called "the latest in a long line of serious breaches of security involving either the loss of data, documents or Government laptops".

The Cabinet Office's admission of the breach came on the same day the UK government voted on a resolution allowing authorities to detain terror suspects for up to 42 days without charge.

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