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Last Updated: Friday, 18 January 2008, 20:06 GMT
Personal data found on roundabout
Confidential documents found near Exeter Airport
Similar documents were found at the same spot in November
Hundreds of documents containing sensitive personal data have been found dumped on a roundabout in Devon.

Details of benefit claims, passport photocopies and mortgage payments were included in the confidential data.

The documents were found on Thursday at a roundabout near Exeter Airport by Karl-Heinz Korzenietz, from Dawlish.

At the same time the MoD said a laptop containing the details of 600,000 people was stolen from a Royal Navy officer in Birmingham last week.

I was shocked and surprised that sensitive papers like this would be lost like that
Karl-Heinz Korzenietz

Mr Korzenietz said two months earlier he found similar documents to those found in Exeter. The Department of Work and Pensions said it was urgently looking into the matter.

"When I came from Exeter Airport, I discovered lots of papers on the roundabout," Mr Korzenietz told BBC News.

"I thought first of all it was rubbish. But when I looked at the papers I discovered they were highly sensitive.

"I was shocked and surprised that sensitive papers like this would just be lost like that."

When Mr Korzenietz found the first documents on 6 November 2007, he took them to the Royal Mail depot in Exeter.

He said Royal Mail contacted him two weeks later to say the material had been returned to TNT.

'No missing data'

But TNT said it is not aware of any missing data.

The first thing they should do is stop putting the data onto laptops
Llew G, Newbury
Spokesman Nick Murray said in a statement: "Investigations are continuing, but at this moment in time we have absolutely no record of any missing or lost data from this location.

"We would like to point out that we are not the only provider of services for the government."

Mr Korzenietz has contacted Devon and Cornwall Police, who will collect the confidential material.

The discovery could be another potential embarrassment for the government.

Last October, two discs containing the entire child benefit database were lost in transit after they were sent by HM Revenue and Customs to the National Audit Office without being registered or encrypted.

Government 'incompetence'

Then in December it was revealed details of three million driving theory test candidates were on a computer hard drive that went missing in the US.

And earlier this month the personal details of hospital patients were lost by the NHS.

Conservative MP Chris Grayling said: "You would have thought after the child benefits fiasco every department would have doubled and trebled their efforts.

"The fact that this hasn't happened is incompetence of the highest degree."

The MoD laptop stolen in Birmingham contained personal information relating to the Royal Navy, Royal Marines and the Royal Air Force.

Benefit information was in the files in Devon

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