MP threw confidential papers in park bin
Published 15/10/2011 | 05:00
A senior British minister was forced to issue an apology yesterday after he was caught repeatedly dumping confidential documents in rubbish bins in a London park. Minister of state Oliver Letwin also received a public dressing-down from Downing Street over a series of photographs showing him throwing away paperwork on five occasions over a five-week period.
The apparent security breach -- Mr Letwin disposed of correspondence relating to terrorism and national security as well as constituents' private letters -- triggered an investigation by the UK cabinet office.
The department was forced to approach the 'Daily Mirror', which published the pictures and retrieved some of the documents, to establish what material had been discarded by Mr Letwin.
His behaviour is also being scrutinised by the Information Commissioner's Office, the UK data protection watchdog, to check whether he breached the law by throwing away the papers in public.
A spokeswoman for David Cameron -- Mr Letwin is one of Mr Cameron's closest allies and was an early supporter of his bid to become Tory leader -- said there were no "classified documents" in the material dropped in the bins. But she added: "Clearly, it is not a sensible way to dispose of documents. Mr Letwin has agreed he will not dispose of documents in this way again."
As his own department began the inquiry, a spokeswoman for the minister said: "He sincerely apologises to any concerned constituents and wants to make assurances that he will no longer dispose of copies of documents and constituency correspondence in this way."
One document reproduced by the 'Daily Mirror' was a note from a senior Tory MP about extraordinary rendition -- picking up terrorist suspects and flying them around the world for interrogation.
Other discarded papers related to operations in Libya, Afghanistan and Pakistan. (©Independent News Service)