'Sensitive' MoD laptop stolen at hotel

*A laptop containing sensitive information was stolen as an official checked out of a Liverpool hotel, the Ministry of Defence has admitted. The theft from the Britannia Adelphi Hotel in Liverpool city centre on Thursday was disclosed by ministers in response to a Parliamentary question.

The admission came as the MoD said it had had 658 laptops stolen in the past four years, almost double the 347 previously claimed to have gone missing. In addition, 89 laptops have been lost, and only 32 recovered.

The Defence Secretary Des Browne was forced to issue revised figures on Friday after "anomalies in the reporting process" were discovered. Ministers also said 121 portable memory sticks had been stolen or lost since 2004. Of those, 26 had gone since January, three of which contained information classified as secret and 19 of which were loaded with "restricted" data.

The 659th laptop to be stolen since 2004 was snatched by a thief when its owner put it down on the Adelphi hotel's floor while he checked out. Merseyside Police confirmed they were investigating the theft.

Last month the MoD was criticised in a review of its data procedures. Sir Edmund Burton warned that basic security discipline had been forgotten and there was "little awareness" of the danger of losing information.

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