Second British secret service computer stolen : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

WIRE:03/27/2000 20:27:00 ET Second British secret service computer stolen LONDON, March 28 (Reuters) - A laptop computer belonging to a British secret service agent has been stolen, the second time this has happened this month, British officials said on Tuesday. Officials said police had recovered the computer and denied a newspaper report that it contained the names of British spies working abroad.

Last week government officials said a secret service laptop containing sensitive material on Northern Ireland was snatched at London's Paddington railway station on March 4.

On Tuesday, a Foreign Office spokeswoman told Reuters the second laptop was stolen in south London on March 3 but had since been recovered.

"I can confirm that a computer was taken on March 3. It was reported to police and recovered on March 16," she said. "There is no connection between the two events. It is only an unfortunate coincidence," she said.

The Sun tabloid reported on Tuesday that the second stolen computer belonged to an agent from Britain's foreign security service MI6.

The intelligence service was so worried by the theft that it placed anonymous newspaper advertisements offering a "substantial reward" for the computer's return, the Sun said.

The spokeswoman said the computer contained only "training material" but the theft was a serious security breach. "The incident is being taken very seriously and there will be a full report made to the Intelligence Services Committee," she said.

The agent whose laptop was stolen at Paddington station worked for Britain's domestic security service MI5.

The information it held on Northern Ireland was believed to have been heavily encrypted and not to contain material on the state of the province's troubled peace process or on any guerrilla threat.

A spokesman for Prime Minister Tony Blair said last week there were strict procedures for transporting classified material. "You can certainly say they've been tightened since this (Paddington) incident," he said.

Before the start of the 1991 Gulf War, a laptop reported to have contained battle plans was stolen from the car of a British air force officer in London. He lost his job as a result.

-- Martin Thompson (, March 27, 2000

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