Another secret service laptop goes missing as MI6 agent has a drink too many in a tapas bar

Kate Watson-Smyth
Tuesday 28 March 2000 00:00
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A second secret-service officer lost his laptop computer after he reportedly drank too much in a bar. The Foreign Office that confirmed the owner, said to be a senior MI6 agent, lost the £2,000 computer on 3 March but said it had been found by 16 March.

A spokeswoman said: "None of the information had been accessed or compromised and the computer largely contained training material." She refused to confirm that an advertisement in the London Evening Standard referred to the laptop. "It was reported missing to police and they carried out an investigation which led to its recovery," she said.

The advert, booked under an alias and which appeared in the paper on 9 March, said: "Substantial reward. Academic urgently seeks information leading to the recovery of PhD vital research notes stored on Toshiba 4000 Series CDS laptop computer in black carrying case lost in London on evening 3 March 00."

Last week the secret services had to admit that an MI5 agent had his computer stolen at Paddington station while he was buying a train ticket on 4 March. Some men approached him, claiming to need help and, while he was distracted by one, another ran off with the computer bag, pursued by the officer and two Transport Police officers.

Reports that the computer had information on the Northern Ireland peace process, terrorist suspects or possible dissident republican plans for a bombing campaign were denied and it was thought to be unlikely the thieves knew their victim was in MI5.

In the latest incident, the agent was said to be have been drinking in a tapas bar near MI6's London headquarters on the south bank of the Thames and did not realise his computer was missing until next day.

MI5 is said to have tightened security, although there are apparently no plans to stop officers taking sensitive material out of the Millbank headquarters. Now MI6 will no doubt also be carrying out a security review.

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