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Sunday, 4 June, 2000, 00:17 GMT 01:17 UK
Defence minister's laptop stolen

The MoD admits to a spate of missing laptops
The government minister in charge of Britain's nuclear secrets has had his laptop stolen, the Ministry of Defence has confirmed.

Armed forces minister John Spellar had his home broken into in Bromley, Kent.

John Spellar
John Spellar: Security tightened
The intruder stole his laptop computer but left without touching two red boxes containing potentially sensitive defence information.

The laptop, which was stolen on 25 March, is the latest in a series to be lost or stolen while in the care of senior Whitehall officials.

As well as being in charge of nuclear policy, Mr Spellar has responsibility for the military's role in Northern Ireland, defence intelligence operations and the MoD police.

Reviewed security

But an MoD spokesman said that the laptop had only held information about the MP's Warley constituency in the West Midlands.

"There was no MoD-related information on it. Red boxes were in the house but no attempt was made to open or remove them," said the spokeman.

"Mr Spellar's security arrangements have been reviewed," he added.

In recent months an MI6 officer left his laptop in a taxi after a night's drinking in a tapas bar in Vauxhall, south London.

The computer, which contained training information for the spy agency concerned with foreign intelligence, was recovered by police two weeks later.

Another was snatched when an MI5 officer put it down to buy a ticket at a station.

The computer was later handed back to the Ministry of Defence after being recovered by a newspaper.

No secrets

Mr Spellar, 52, was in Warley when his 2,000 machine went missing.

He told the Sunday People: "I had just taken delivery of it but it did not contain any State secrets, just information about the constituency.

"I never do MoD work on a laptop and whoever has it will have some less than riveting data about voting intentions."

Last month Whitehall revealed that more than 35 laptop computers had been lost or stolen from government ministers and officials in the past three years.

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See also:

26 May 00 | UK Politics
Mystery of stolen Whitehall laptops
28 Mar 00 | UK
Second spy loses laptop
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