29 January 2008
A stolen Ministry of Defence computer had the personal details of almost
60,000 Scots stored on it.
The revelation came in a written parliamentary answer to SNP defence
spokesman Angus Robertson MP.
The laptop, which was taken from a Royal Navy officer in Birmingham on 9
January, contained information about 600,000 people.
The MoD has set up a freephone help number on 0800 085 3600 for anyone
who thinks they may have been affected.
The breakdown given to Mr Robertson disclosed that the details of 59,553
people in Scotland were lost as a result of the theft.
In Wales, the details of 37,546 people were lost, while in Northern
Ireland 14,223 people were affected.
The details of 459,778 people from England and 34,667 people from
elsewhere were also on the laptop.
Mr Robertson said the scale of the problem was "staggering" and called
for a thorough investigation.
Secretary of State for Defence, Des Browne, has said he took the theft
of personal data "extremely seriously".
He added: "I am also keenly aware of the risks should the data have
fallen into the wrong hands, although I emphasise that there is no
evidence that it has done so.
"I am determined that we should identify exactly what went wrong and
Mr Robertson said the MoD's response to his questioning brought home the
staggering scale of the data loss.
He added: "The obvious and immediate concern must be the security of
individuals, and their families, whose data has stolen, but we also
urgently need assurances from the MoD that operational security has not
been compromised by this grave breach.
"It is just unfathomable that the MoD could let this happen, and we must
now have a top level investigation into data security right across UK
The laptop contained personal details of people who had joined the Royal
Navy, Royal Marines and Royal Air Force and from people who had
expressed an interest in joining.
Entries on the computer included passport details, National Insurance
numbers, drivers' licence details, family details, doctors' addresses
and NHS numbers, the MoD said.
West Midlands Police began an investigation into the theft of the
laptop, and an inquiry into military security was also launched.
The MoD's helpline will be open from 0700 GMT to 1900 GMT, Monday to
Callers will be asked to provide their name, date of birth and postcode
to verify whether they are at risk.
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