Fri, Jun 13, 2008 - Page 6 News List

High-ranking UK official leaves top secret data on train

AGENCIES , LONDON

Highly classified intelligence documents relating to two of the most sensitive issues involving UK security interests — al-Qaeda in Pakistan and the situation in Iraq — were found on a train near London, it was disclosed on Wednesday night.

The documents, including one marked Top Secret, were believed to be detailed and up-to-date assessments by he UK’s Joint Intelligence Committee.

They were found on Tuesday and handed to the BBC’s security correspondent, Frank Gardner, who reported the loss. The BBC said the documents were left on the train by a senior intelligence officer.

A British government spokesman said last night that the documents’ high security classification meant they would have had a limited circulation.

“There has been a security breach, the [London] Metropolitan police are carrying out an investigation,” he said.

A Scotland Yard spokesperson said its counterterrorism squad would be heading the investigation.

Gardner said the documents were left in an orange cardboard envelope on a train from London Waterloo going south to Surrey by a “very senior intelligence official” working in the Cabinet Office. A police search was launched when it was realized that they were missing, as officials were concerned at the possibility of such sensitive papers getting into the wrong hands, he said.

The envelope was picked up by a fellow passenger, who found a seven-page document inside setting out the latest government assessment on the Islamist terror network al-Qaeda, along with a “top secret and in some cases damning” assessment of Iraq’s security forces, Gardner said.

The al-Qaeda document, commissioned jointly by the UK Foreign Office and the UK Home Office, was classified “UK top secret,” he said. Each page was numbered and marked: “For UK, US, Canadian and Australian eyes only.” The document on Iraq was commissioned by the UK Ministry of Defence.

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