Civil servant ‘removed from sensitive work’ over lost secret papers

MoD says investigation has “found no evidence of espionage” or compromise to national security
Defence secretary Ben Wallace Credit: PA

By Jim Dunton

21 Jul 2021

A civil servant has been blocked from “sensitive work” and had their security clearance suspended after an incident in which classified Ministry of Defence documents were found in a “soggy heap” near a bus stop in Kent.

In a written statement to parliament, defence secretary Ben Wallace said investigations into the discovery of the documents – first reported to the BBC by a member of the public, and subsequently substantiated by the MoD – had now concluded.

“The investigation has independently confirmed the circumstances of the loss, including the management of the papers within the department, the location at which the papers were lost and the manner in which that occurred,” Wallace told MPs.

“These are consistent with the events self-reported by the individual. We are confident that we have recovered all the secret papers.

“The investigation has found no evidence of espionage; and has concluded there has been no compromise of the papers by our adversaries.”

Wallace added: “The individual concerned has been removed from sensitive work and has already had their security clearance suspended pending a full review.

“For security reasons, the department will be making no further comment on the nature of the loss or on the identity of the individual.

“The department takes protection of its information extremely seriously and will continue to take firm action in response to such incidents.”

At the time it reported their discovery, the BBC said the documents amounted to around 50 pages and included emails and PowerPoint presentations that related to Royal Navy Type 45 destroyer HMS Defender’s passage through Ukranian waters the previous week. 

The move reportedly prompted more than 20 Russian air force planes and two coastguard ships to shadow the vessel,  as it passed around 12 miles from the coast of Crimea.

The BBC said many of the discovered documents were marked “official sensitive”.

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