Po­lice chief fined as lost se­cret pa­pers threaten se­cu­rity

The Daily Telegraph - - News - By Martin Evans CRIME COR­RE­SPON­DENT

ONE of the coun­try’s lead­ing coun­tert­er­ror­ism po­lice of­fi­cers is fac­ing dis­missal af­ter he com­pro­mised na­tional se­cu­rity by leav­ing top se­cret doc­u­ments in the boot of his car while he went on hol­i­day.

As­sis­tant Chief Con­sta­ble Mar­cus Beale, who ran anti-ter­ror op­er­a­tions in the West Mid­lands, was charged with breach­ing the Of­fi­cial Secrets Act when it emerged that the file had been stolen. The doc­u­ments, which have never been re­cov­ered, in­cluded in­for­ma­tion about live ter­ror in­ves­ti­ga­tions and were so sen­si­tive that they should never have been re­moved from a po­lice build­ing. It is feared the in­for­ma­tion could put un­der­cover po­lice and in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cers at risk.

Ap­pear­ing at West­min­ster mag­is­trates’ court yes­ter­day, Mr Beale ad­mit­ted one count of fail­ing to safe­guard in­for­ma­tion un­der the Of­fi­cial Secrets Act and was fined £3,500.

The court heard Mr Beale left the doc­u­ments in a locked case in the boot of his car for four or five days last May. Dur­ing that pe­riod, he went shop­ping, vis­ited the pub and had a long week­end away, leav­ing the car at an East Mid­lands rail­way sta­tion for sev­eral days.

Mr Beale said he be­lieved the doc­u­ments had been stolen on May 14, while his car was parked on his drive­way, by some­one who had used an elec­tronic de­vice to by­pass the cen­tral lock­ing.

He dis­cov­ered the theft the fol­low­ing day when he stopped at a ser­vice sta­tion on the way to a meet­ing and no­ticed that case was miss­ing.

Pros­e­cu­tor Jane Stans­field said if the doc­u­ments were to be made pub­lic it could lead to a “com­pro­mise in na­tional se­cu­rity” and “present a spe­cific risk to in­di­vid­u­als or com­mu­ni­ties”.

Po­ten­tial reper­cus­sions could also in­clude a “com­pro­mise in in­tel­li­gence and in­ter­nal re­la­tion­ships”, she said.

Mr Beale has been sus­pended and will face dis­ci­plinary pro­ceed­ings, but his lawyer said it was likely he would lose his job.

Chief mag­is­trate Emma Ar­buth­not said: “It’s ob­vi­ously in­cred­i­bly dan­ger­ous and po­ten­tially very dif­fi­cult that these doc­u­ments dis­ap­peared in the way that they did. That a po­lice of­fi­cer, let alone a very se­nior po­lice of­fi­cer, thought it was ap­pro­pri­ate to leave a brief­case in a car with that sort of pa­pers in it shows a lack of com­mon sense which was wor­ry­ing.”

Due to the na­ture of the doc­u­ments, Scot­land Yard led the in­ves­ti­ga­tion and the Met’s Direc­torate of Pro­fes­sional Stan­dards is also in­ves­ti­gat­ing.

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