An army captain has left his unencrypted laptop with the personal details of more than 200 soldiers plus details on their movements, army exercises and the locations of their weapons stores after a drinking session in a London pub, a newspaper reported today.
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A reader handed the laptop to the Sun newspaper after finding it under a table in the Troy Club. It belonged to captain Luke Badger of the Royal Engineers, the paper said.
A Ministry of Defence spokesman confirmed the incident, saying the laptop was the captain's personal machine. He gave no details of how such sensitive information could have found its way on to the machine.
He said the incident was being investigated as a matter of urgency, and that the ministry regarded all such breaches with the utmost seriousness.
The incident comes just weeks after the cabinet secretary, Gus O'Donnell, responded to the theft of a navy laptops in Birmingham. On 21 January he wrote to all permanent secretaries saying, "From now on, no unencrypted laptops or drives containing personal data should be taken outside secured office premises. Please ensure that this is communicated throughout your organisation and delivery bodies and implemented immediately, and that steps are taken to monitor compliance."
O'Donnell produced an interim report on data handling in the public sector. A final version is expected in spring, a spokesman said.