Defence papers leak was result of individual blunder not espionage

An investigation into how secret Ministry of Defence papers ended up at a Kent bus stop has found no evidence of espionage but instead blamed an individual’s blunder.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace told MPs: “We are confident that we have recovered all the secret papers.”

The papers included documents relating to the likely reaction of the Russians to the passage of the Royal Navy destroyer HMS Defender through waters off the coast of Crimea and to the UK military presence in Afghanistan.

Russian forces fire warning shots at Royal Navy destroyer
The papers contained details about HMS Defender’s voyage off Crimea (Ben Mitchell/PA)

Mr Wallace added: “The investigation has found no evidence of espionage and has concluded there has been no compromise of the papers by our adversaries.”

The papers were handed to the BBC by the member of the public who found them, and MPs have previously been told the leak appeared to be the result of a mistake by one individual who reported the loss to the Ministry of Defence (MoD).

“The investigation has independently confirmed the circumstances of the loss, including the management of the papers within the department, the location at which the papers were lost and the manner in which that occurred,” Mr Wallace said.

“These are consistent with the events self-reported by the individual.”

The individual concerned has been removed from “sensitive work” and has already had their security clearance suspended pending a full review.

“For security reasons, the department will be making no further comment on the nature of the loss or on the identity of the individual,” Mr Wallace added.