back to article Official who lost secret al-Qaeda report pleads guilty

The senior civil servant who left government documents detailing intelligence on al-Qaeda on a commuter train in June has pleaded guilty to a breach of the Official Secrets Act. Richard Jackson, 37, of Yately in Hampshire, appeared before City of Westminster magistrates. The court heard the loss "had the potential to damage …


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  1. Anonymous Coward


    Consistency is required. Prosecute all or "deal internally" with all. Bigger fish have made more serious blunders and got away with them...

  2. Dangermouse

    This man is a rarity in the Civil Service

    Granted he made the mistake of leaving the stuff on the train in the first place, but at least he owned up to the fact and has taken his punishment like a grown up. Shame the rest of them can't do the same.

  3. Colin Millar

    Unfortunately this person isn't a rarity

    "The passenger gave the orange folder containing the documents to the BBC"

    Because of course you can never find a Police when you need one but BBC journos patrol the streets in packs.

    Would the twat on the 18:00 from Waterloo please stand up

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    What about...

    The numpty that handed the documents to the BBC instead of (say) Lost Property. What was (s)he thinking? (This could be a nice little earner, probably)

  5. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

    Next: prosecution of bankster who build up a loss of 3 trillion GBP

    ...while knowing perfectly well what they were doing.

    What's that? Joe Public gonna pay? Ok, we deal with this "internally".

  6. HFoster
    Thumb Down

    The passanger who found the folder

    What a scumbag, handing it in to the media rather than the police or attempting to contact the Civil Service.

    Disgraceful that the case was made trial by media from the off.

  7. Mike

    BBC - the new law enforcers

    Well, I presume this is the case seeing as the "fellow passenger", rather than handing said documentation to, oh I dunno, the POLICE, said commuter passed the folder over to Aunty Beeb.

    WTF? Now admitted, it needed to be brought to the public's attention that one of our (junior) Public Servants is trying to throw what intelligence (add your own punchline) this nation has into the hands of Johnny Rag-head, but irrespective of the content of the document I'd like to think that if I "inadvertantly" left something in public, it would be handed to the APPROPRIATE authority so I've got a chance of getting it back (and not by seeing it splashed all over the 6 o'Clock news either)

    So that's the anonymous commuter covered. Now for Cyril Servant:

    So he "inadvertantly" picked up the document then "inadvertantly" left it on a train? For classified information?

    This person should be whipped naked through the streets of Northampton for this! £2500 fine? That's probably 2 weeks wages to this numbskull!

    One of the two I could believe, but first he didn't mean to take the document, followed immediately on discovering he had (which he must have done to be able to leave it behind) he then manages to not take it with him when he really really now needs to.

    Can start to see why our sceptred isle is in the state it's in, if HMG are employing this kind of numpty to manage how our country operates. FFS I could do a better job than this, or at least achieve the same level of incompetence for a lower salary.

    Mr Brown, please feel free to send me any job vacancies. I'll try not to leave them on the train.

    Pirate symbol, cos our countries been boarded by scurvy knaves in suits and bowler hats, and are robbing us blind.

  8. Steve

    @ Dangermouse

    "but at least he owned up to the fact and has taken his punishment like a grown up."

    So he followed some (but not all) of the rules he was supposed to work by and didn't cry for his mummy during sentencing. You don't get plaudits for your fuck-up not being quite as bad as theoretically possible. Look at this from the beeb...

    "[His lawyer] said: "He was under extreme pressure at this time and it may well be partly because of his own role, the team he was leading and the work he was being asked to conduct that he has made this gross error of judgment." "

    He's trying to use "the job's really hard" as an excuse for failing to do it properly. Surely the reason for his very generous remuneration is that he's the sort of person who can handle the pressure without cock-ups like this. If he isn't, then he shouldn't have the job and he certainly shouldn't have the wages. If this cunt had any honour, he'd have resigned immediately.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    @ those who say "why the BBC?"

    Because if the finder had given the folder to the police the whole thing would have been hushed up. He/she did us all a service.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture

    Target-driven policing

    If the finder had taken this to the Police it could possibly have been arrested for having/stealing it. Next thing his DNA and fingerprints would be on file. I wouldn't risk it if I found something like this.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    "Making money, by giving it to the BBC"

    Probably not. If they wanted to make a profit, then the tabloids would have been a better option.

    A while ago I would have said the BBC were the right people to hand it to - they had integrity, and they did seem to be doing a good job. Now I'm either more jaded, or they've gone downhill.

    At the time this story broke I wondered if this was a backhanded attempt to get the information into the public's eyes to help keep attention on the war on terror - if so then the BBCs decision not to publish the data caused the scheme to fail, and this public trial could easily be an attempt to distract attention away from that scheme.

    If the job's pressure is causing him to make this sort of completely fundamental mistake - is he handing in his notice, since he's not fit for the post?

  12. Adam Foxton

    @Why the BBC

    If he'd handed it into the Police he'd have been arrested for posessing the documents, had his PC searched and his character ripped to shreds and generally been made pretty miserable.

  13. Geoff Bin In

    'My bad', says forgetful vomiter

    Just where did the phrase 'My bad', come from and what is it supposed to mean?

    I have only seen it in recent years and have always supposed that it was used by

    non-native speakers who had not yet got to grips with the language. Our author

    does, however, seem to have some facility with the language. Can the use here

    be ironic or has this phrase passed into everyday use?

  14. Paul Donnelly

    Four Legs Good, Two legs better.

    So, Mr McKinnon went through a gaping hole and had a browse of some US computers looking for aliens, doesnt get it, doesnt publish anything, and gets deported to a country where the prosecuting counsel has said they want to 'see him fry'...

    NuLabour Chimp "Inadvertently" picks up top secret classified documents, "Inadvertently" leaves them in the public domain, where they get passed to the national media (admittedly NuLabour's Media Outlet of Choice), he then gets prosecuted and handed a £2500 fine.

    If McKinnon gets any more than a $5000 fine in the States, then this Government ought to be ashamed of themselves, if anything PUBLIC SERVANTS should be MORE ACCOUNTABLE than the general public. Jumpy Jacquie, if you're reading this, YOU ARE A SERVANT. SERVE US, THE PUBLIC WITHOUT MAKING ALL OF US CRIMINALS!

    Jeez, some of my mates are Police officers, am I now a crook if I take a photo of them at their birthday parties? Or are Estate Agents crims when they take photos of houses where police and intelligence officers live? And for god's sake, if GOOGLE can take a photo, you can piss off if you try to tell me I'm not allowed.

    No A/C. I am not a coward. These are my views, and I have the RIGHT to air them.

    Coat getting time.

  15. Alexis Vallance
    Thumb Down

    Poor bloke

    I feel sorry for the bloke. We've all made mistakes at work and forgotten stuff. Mike above has obviously never ever made a mistake in his life.

    There was probably sod all in that folder anyway. Just having it marked 'top secret' got Frank Gardner all excited at the BBC.

  16. Anonymous Coward

    Official Secrets Act

    The Official Secrets act makes it an offence to simply have posession of protectively marked (eg Secret) documents if you're not authorised to have them. It also makes it an offence to pass them on to someone who isn't authorised.

    So that passenger could, and should, have been prosecuted on two counts of breaking the OSA.

  17. Mark

    £250 costs????

    When what McKinnon did didn't even leak sensitive data cost the US $5,000 for each of a hundred machines???

  18. Anonymous Coward

    @Surprised observers

    Many observers were surprised when the decision to prosecute rather than deal with the blunder internally .....

    Perhaps it wasn't possible because he was summarily dismissed.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    The passenger should also face charges

    Handing the files over to the BBC is an offence under the OSA.

  20. George

    @ Anon Coward

    But the passenger hasn't signed the Official Secrets Act and therefore is not held to account for it. There is another law the public are held to account on but can't remember it.

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