After top secret documents examining the activities of a Royal Navy warship in the Black Sea were discovered at a bus stop, Britain’s defence ministry apologized on Monday.
Jeremy Quin, a junior military minister, apologized to parliament for the breach, which he blamed on a senior ministry staffer.
One of the documents recovered by a member of the public in Kent, southeast England, and handed over to the BBC was labeled “Secret: UK Eyes Only.”
According to the BBC, the papers outlined a possible Russian response to the Royal Navy’s HMS Defender passing through Ukrainian seas near the coast of Crimea.
Last week, Russia said the destroyer had violated its territorial seas and fired warning rounds at it, further straining diplomatic ties between London and Moscow.
However, the United Kingdom stated that it was making a “innocent passage” in conformity with international law.
Quin informed MPs that the misplaced documents had been recovered, and that the individual’s access to sensitive information had been suspended awaiting an investigation.
“I don’t want to prejudge the inquiry, but it looks this was a mistake by that individual,” he said, adding, “I don’t want to prejudge the investigation.”
Plans for a possible continuing British military presence in Afghanistan after US-led NATO operations cease later this year were also included in the documents.
Quin said Britain’s partners, including the US, had been informed and that he had “no evidence” that staff safety had been jeopardized.
Several Conservative MPs have raised concerns about frequent security breaches at the Ministry of Defence in the previous six months.
“We have no records of documents being mislaid at the above ‘Secret’ level in the last 18 months. But clearly this should never have happened,” said Quin.
SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN