Page last updated at 11:07 GMT, Thursday, 8 January 2009

Men charged over stolen passports

Shops in Oldham
The passports were stolen from a van outside a newsagents

Three men have been charged with handling stolen goods after 3,000 blank passports and visas were taken from a delivery van in Oldham.

The documents were being transported from the printers in Chadderton to RAF Northolt when they were stolen from outside a newsagent's in August 2008.

The government later admitted a major security breach as the documents were not being transported in a secure van.

The men are due to appear before Oldham Magistrates' Court later.

Muneer Hussain, 29, of Dearnalay Way, Oldham, and Jawad Karim, 18, of Vicarage Street, Oldham, and Mohammed Shanawaz, 23, of Old Lane, Chadderton, were arrested on Sunday evening when the car they were travelling in was stopped on the M62.

They were charged by police on Wednesday night.

Police have said a "substantial" quantity of the passports - thought to be worth 2.5m on the black market - have been recovered since the theft.

At the time the Identity and Passport Service said any missing passports would be unusable because they were fitted with chips, although this was disputed by some security experts.

The passports were en route to British embassies abroad.

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