The BBC reported that sensitive defence documents containing details about the British military had been discovered at a bus stop in England.
The BBC said that the papers included proposals for a likely UK military presence in Afghanistan, as well as talks about the possible Russian response to the British warship HMS Defender’s travel through waters off the Crimean shoreline last week.
The broadcaster said a member of the public who wanted to remain unnamed contacted them when they discovered the pile of documents, about 50 pages in all, in a soggy pile on Tuesday behind a bus stop in Kent, southeast of London.
The Ministry of Defence said an employee had reported the loss of the papers last week, but it didn’t provide details about the incident or confirm the documents were discovered at a bus stop.
It said in a statement that the Ministry of Defence was notified last week of an incident in which sensitive defence papers were found by a member of the public and that the department takes the security of information very seriously and that an inquiry has been launched, and that it would be improper to discuss the matter further.
John Healey, the defence spokesperson for the opposition Labour party, said the incident was both disturbing and troubling, and that ministers must be able to verify to the public that national security hasn’t been threatened, that no military or security operations have been affected and that the proper procedures were in position to ensure nothing like this occurs again.
The HMS Defender upset Russia’s military on Wednesday when it navigated south of the Crimean Peninsula in a Black Sea region that Moscow maintains as its territorial waters.
Numerous countries, including the United Kingdom, don’t accept Russia’s 2014 occupation of Crimea from Ukraine and consider that expanse to be Ukrainian waters.
But if these documents were so classified, why were they printed out so that they could be misplaced and why was this person carrying them to take them on the bus? And at what level of official would someone be carrying current and sensitive information on a broad spectrum of topics as HMS Defender and Afghanistan as a hard copy? Something smells fishy to me.
Or was it the Russians, it’s not as if they’ve not extracted classified documents from Whitehall before, but then the Russian’s wouldn’t have handed them to the BBC! And to leave such a large amount of sensitive classified documents in a soggy heap behind a bus stop implies more than just absent-mindedness, although stranger things have happened, you do have to wonder.
But I can only see three imbeciles here. The person that left the documents at the bus stop, the person that found them and gave them to the press instead of back to the MoD, and the BBC for publicising national defence papers, and in 2021, in this digital world that we live in, people shouldn’t be carrying around sensitive documents.
And of course, it’s typical of the BBC to divulge these sensitive documents sooner than to act in the national interest and just return them, and I hope that the messenger knows that in the United Kingdom, the Official Secrets Act is a law, not a contract and that individuals are bound by it whether or not they have signed the act.
So, could this force the government to reform its safety methods to stop further leaks, so that they do their jobs properly, or is it that these details aren’t classified since the papers legal team would have checked with the MoD, meaning that this is a distraction as usual.