By Emma Henry and agencies
The head of Revenue & Customs has resigned after his department lost the
details of as many as 15 million child benefit claimants in what is
believed to be one of the world's biggest ID protection failures.
Paul Gray quit ahead of a Commons statement this afternoon by Chancellor
Alistair Darling on "a major operational problem".
It is understood the information was stored on discs, which went missing
in transit and have not yet been recovered. The Metropolitan Police are
The data includes names, home addresses, dates of birth, National
Insurance numbers and bank details of millions of child benefit
It is understood that senior officials from Revenue and Customs were
called to a meeting with Treasury officials at the weekend as the scale
of the problem emerged.
It is not the first security breach involving HM Revenue & Customs.
Earlier this month, BBC Radio 4's Money Box programme reported that a CD
containing the personal details of thousands of Standard Life pension
holders had gone missing, leaving them at risk of fraud.
Nearly 15,000 customers were warned to be on high alert for potential
scams after their data was lost in transit by an external courier.
However, it is thought that the statement does not relate directly to
The revelations are likely to pile more pressure on Mr Darling, who has
already been heavily criticised for his handling of the Northern Rock
In a statement, Mr Gray said: "This is not the way I would have planned
to organise my departure from HMRC."
Michael Fallon, the Conservative member of the House of Commons Treasury
Committee, said he was "stunned" by Mr Gray's departure.
He told BBC News 24: "Paul Gray is a very distinguished public servant
who had served successive governments and we thought had a very good
grip on the problems at Revenue and Customs."
The merger of Customs and Excise with the Inland Revenue announced by
the then Chancellor Gordon Brown in 2004 created the biggest department
The giant, minister-less super-ministry, was put under the control of an
executive board, although the Chancellor remained responsible to
parliament for its operations.
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