http://www.mirror.co.uk/shtml/NEWS/P4S4.shtml Monday 16th Apr 2001 THE BUNGLER who left his top-secret laptop in a cab was desperately hoping for its return last night - to defuse the fury of his Defence Ministry bosses. The missing Dell Latitude computer is thought to contain vital information about new weapons systems. The man who was carrying it reported the loss to police but NOT to the Ministry of Defence. Scotland Yard have circulated details about the pounds 1,700 black laptop. A Yard spokesman said yesterday: "Special Branch have a record of the laptop being left in a black cab. They put a message out regarding its loss. "It may be that the laptop will be handed in through the central cab office. "I don't know why that hasn't already happened. If the cabbie doesn't hand it over then he would be facing a serious situation when it comes to the renewal of his licence." The loss of the laptop will be a huge embarrassment to senior military officers. Large number of computers have gone missing through carelessness, theft or after drinking sessions. Senior MoD staff were severely reprimanded last year when The Mirror returned a missing laptop which held top-secret files on the pounds 250billion development of a new British-US fighter plane. The latest loss was reported at the front counter of a police station in Wandsworth, South London. The official told police he picked up a black cab near Waterloo railway station and was driven eight miles to Roehampton. He forgot about the laptop and left it in the cab. Police immediately alerted Scotland Yard's Special Branch. Details of the cab and driver are sketchy. All the official could tell police was that the driver was aged 25 to 40. He could give no further description and could not give any part of the vehicle registration or the driver's personal licence number. The computer was black, with a shoulder strap, and had a gold sticker of financial consultants Ernst & Young on the front, with two spots of BluTak on the back. Special Branch have circulated an internal message headlined "Property left in taxi cab". The description says: "Black laptop left in taxi and has sensitive MoD info contained therein. "Was in a blk (black) cab from Waterloo to Roehampton, contains military info with regard to national security." The Ministry of Defence said they did not know of the laptop's loss. An MoD spokesman told The Mirror: "I have made extensive inquiries and we have absolutely no record of this. "We should have been notified as a matter of course and you can only speculate as to why we haven't been. "Perhaps the person behind its loss is hoping it will be returned to him sooner rather than later. "Who this person is, or who he works for, is not known to us." Ministry of Defence police will be brought into the case tomorrow after the Easter break. A police source said: "This man is going to be very lucky if he gets his laptop back in time to avoid the fall-out. "Anything could have happened to it. Someone else could have got in the cab and simply walked off with it." An MoD source admitted that there was "deep concern" about computers going astray - and said the latest culprit was probably lying low. The source said: "He'll be praying for a miracle and a knock on his door with a smiling officer holding the laptop. I am sure that would be better than winning the lottery." Since 1997 military and intelligence staff have lost an astonishing 204 laptops containing official secrets. The problem is so serious that Ministry of Defence and security service staff are to be issued with hi-tech briefcases costing pounds 1,000 each. The MoD plans to buy 15,000 of the armoured cases that look like ordinary black briefcases but will destroy data if an attempt is made to open them. The new briefcases are so strong that they can withstand a Semtex explosion. Special versions will have an electronic system that wipes the laptop's hard drive if the case is opened without the right codes. The briefcases were recently displayed at a private security exhibition at the MoD's Whitehall headquarters and were passed for use by a secretive Cabinet Office body called the Security Equipment Assessment Panel. Some of the briefcases will also be fitted with electronic trackers so that they can be traced quickly if they go missing. Fewer laptops are now being issued to Government staff because of fears that losses will continue to grow. Last year one MI5 officer left his laptop on a train in Dorset while another had his stolen at a London Tube station. An MI6 agent lost her laptop after she got drunk in a tapas bar near the agency's London headquarters. An Army officer's computer was stolen by an opportunist thief at Heathrow Airport. Voice of The Mirror: Page 6 g.jonesat_private IF YOU know who lost the laptop, or have any information about the black cab in which it was left, please call the Mirror newsroom in confidence on 0207 293 3831 ISN is hosted by SecurityFocus.com --- To unsubscribe email LISTSERVat_private with a message body of "SIGNOFF ISN".
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