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Thursday, 18 July, 2002, 14:25 GMT 15:25 UK
Police 'embarrassed' over Blunkett files
David Blunkett
Mr Blunkett met the police about the security lapse
South Yorkshire's police chief said he was "embarrassed" at how confidential files detailing the home secretary's security arrangements were left outside a pub.

Mike Hedges was called to have a "chat" with David Blunkett on Thursday, after attending a street crime conference at the Home Office.

After the meeting, Mr Hedges said he wanted to make sure such a security lapse never happened again.

Click here to see other security blunders

A passer-by discovered the police dossier, which included aerial photographs of Mr Blunkett's home in Sheffield, details of his alarm system and the places he usually visits, on the street just yards from a police station in Sheffield.

Mr Hedges said: "The embarrassment is not what worries me. What worries me is the security and safety of the home secretary.

"It's not something I would have wanted to have happened and I'll do everything I can to ensure it doesn't happen again.

"I have told him there is a thorough investigation going on to find out how this breach occurred and ensure his security is no longer compromised."

Dossier returned

The Home Secretary, who lives alone, is considered Britain's third biggest terrorist target after the Queen and Prime Minister, and his blindness brings extra difficulties for officers charged with his security.

The documents, codenamed Operation Decorator and marked "Confidential. Not to be copied", were found by a 54-year-old former soldier outside the Woodseats Palace pub opposite a local police station.

He handed them to The Sun newspaper, which has now returned them to South Yorkshire Police.

Mr Hedges said steps were being taken to ensure protection staff and other police officers were aware of the breach so they could take appropriate action.


SECURITY BLUNDERS

  • June 2002 Laptop containing secret information about Britain's air-to-air missile was handed to police by the News of the World after it was found in a skip in Stevenage, Hertfordshire, outside the offices of MBDA Missile Systems

  • May 2002 The Mirror newspaper was given a Ministry of Defence laptop containing sensitive information about the government's planned sell-off of part of QinetiQ, which was meant to be read only by the Prime Minister, the head of the civil service and defence chiefs.

  • March 2000 A missing MoD laptop containing sensitive files on Northern Ireland was stolen from an MI5 officer at Paddington Station in London.

    Days later an MI6 agent lost his laptop after drinking at a tapas bar in Pimlico.

    Click here to return

  •  WATCH/LISTEN
     ON THIS STORY
    The BBC's Carole Jones
    "The papers were found lying in the street opposite a police station"
    See also:

    01 Jul 02 | Politics
    15 May 02 | England
    16 Jul 00 | Politics
    Internet links:


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