EX­CLU­SIVE Top se­cret doc­u­ments had de­tails of Queen’s route and ID passes

Sunday Mirror (Northern Ireland) - - Front Page - BY DAN WAR­BUR­TON

A ME­MORY stick hold­ing Heathrow se­cu­rity se­crets has been found ly­ing in the street.

It de­tails ID passes and routes taken by the Queen – and would be a gift to ter­ror­ists.

HEATHROW chiefs are reel­ing af­ter a me­mory stick crammed with con­fi­den­tial in­for­ma­tion was found in the street – pos­ing “a risk to na­tional se­cu­rity”.

Bri­tain’s big­gest air­port launched a “very, very ur­gent” in­ves­ti­ga­tion af­ter the Sun­day Mir­ror alerted them to the fright­en­ing se­cu­rity lapse.

The USB stick – con­tain­ing 76 fold­ers with maps, videos and doc­u­ments – was not en­crypted and did not re­quire a pass­word. It re­vealed:

The ex­act route the Queen takes when us­ing the air­port and se­cu­rity mea­sures used to pro­tect her.

Files dis­clos­ing ev­ery type of ID needed – even those used by covert cops – to ac­cess re­stricted ar­eas.

A timetable of pa­trols that was used to guard the site against sui­cide bombers and ter­ror at­tacks.

Maps pin­point­ing CCTV cam­eras and a net­work of tun­nels and es­cape shafts linked to the Heathrow Ex­press.

Routes and safe­guards for Cab­i­net min­is­ters and for­eign dig­ni­taries.

De­tails of the ul­tra­sound radar sys­tem used to scan run­ways and the perime­ter fence.

The scare comes just weeks af­ter Bri­tain’s ter­ror threat stood at crit­i­cal fol­low­ing the Par­sons Green Tube bomb bid. It is still at se­vere.

The USB stick was found by a mem­ber of the pub­lic and handed to the Sun­day Mir­ror.

A se­cu­rity source said: “In the wrong hands this would rep­re­sent a pro­found threat in terms of ter­ror­ism or es­pi­onage.

“Avi­a­tion se­cu­rity is un­der the mi­cro­scope be­cause of the de­sire by ter­ror­ists to bring planes down in a spec­tac­u­lar fash­ion. Se­cu­rity ser­vices would not want this be­ing leaked or sold to hos­tile par­ties who could use it to at­tack our in­fras­truc­ture for po­lit­i­cal gain or use it as lever­age against us.”

Yes­ter­day Met Po­lice de­tec­tives were li­ais­ing with air­port chiefs to work out how the USB drive, with a mas­sive 2.5GB of data, ended up in the street.

Air­port in­sid­ers re­vealed they were try­ing to de­ter­mine if there had been an “in­com­pe­tent data breach” or if some­one had been ac­cess­ing files in­ten­tion­ally.

Po­lice fear it may have been copied and cir­cu­lated on the “dark web” – where ter­ror­ists and crim­i­nals buy in­for­ma­tion.

The scale of de­tail could have taken years to com­pile and in­volve a num­ber of dif­fer­ent sys­tems.

A po­lice source said: “The fear is that this in­for­ma­tion could have been down­loaded and dis­sem­i­nated God knows where. The worry is it ends up on the dark web and used by bad guys to pick holes in air­port se­cu­rity.”

A for­mer counter-ter­ror­ism chief who spe­cialises in air­port se­cu­rity told the Sun­day Mir­ror: “There are se­ri­ous ques­tions to be an­swered.

“Why was this sen­si­tive ma­te­rial held on an un­en­crypted me­mory stick

This is serv­ing up in­tel­li­gence on a plate... it could help in plan­ning a Heathrow at­tack SE­CU­RITY EX­PERT AF­TER SEE­ING MASS OF DATA ON ME­MORY STICK

and taken off site? It’s a huge se­cu­rity breach and mas­sively em­bar­rass­ing for those in charge of se­cu­rity. Know­ing cer­tain as­pects of this in­for­ma­tion may make it eas­ier for po­ten­tial at­tack­ers to avoid de­tec­tion.


“And the cu­mu­la­tive im­pact of hav­ing so many doc­u­ments, videos, maps and images all in one place rep­re­sents a se­cu­rity risk.”

The Sun­day Mir­ror was con­tacted by an un­em­ployed man who found the stick while on his way to the li­brary to search the in­ter­net for work.

He spot­ted the me­mory stick among leaves on the pave­ment in Il­bert Street, in Queen’s Park, West Lon­don. When it was plugged in a mass of in­for­ma­tion came up. There were at least 174 doc­u­ments. Some were marked as “con­fi­den­tial” or “re­stricted” – but could still be read.

Maps lay bare de­tails of the air­port’s Royal Suite, used by the Queen, Cab­i­net mem­bers and for­eign dig­ni­taries.

And there are pho­tos of X-ray ma­chines and scan­ning equip­ment used by Her Majesty.

The Royal Suite – which costs £2,800 to hire for a sin­gle flight – is hid­den from view in Ter­mi­nal 5 and guests are driven di­rectly to it. But the me­mory stick holds images of the route lead­ing up to the suite and satel­lite images with the lo­ca­tion of nearby check­points. De­tails of screen­ing pro­cesses in Wind­sor Suite – used by celebri­ties in­clud­ing singer Ch­eryl Tweedy – were also re­vealed.

Other files listed those “ex­empt from screen­ing”, de­tails of driv­ers fer­ry­ing VIP guests to the suite and ra­dio codes in the case of an “air­craft hi­jack­ing”.

Other maps showed where main­te­nance tun­nels and es­cape shafts link the air­port to the Heathrow Ex­press train line.

Satel­lite images and op­er­at­ing man­u­als for the Dop­pler radar sur­veil­lance sys­tem were also stored.

An ex­pert who helped us ex­am­ine the me­mory stick said the in­for­ma­tion may help fa­cil­i­tate an at­tack if it fell in the wrong hands.

He said: “Know­ing this in­for­ma­tion would cut down on sur­veil­lance and could po­ten­tially make ac­cess eas­ier.

“Se­cu­rity chiefs will be work­ing hard to en­sure there is no phys­i­cal threat as a re­sult of this breach and chang­ing pro­cesses if nec­es­sary.

“It is not help­ful – cer­tainly not best

prac­tice – to have maps and draw­ings de­tail­ing one of the UK’s big­gest airports left ly­ing in the street.

“It is serv­ing up in­tel­li­gence on a plate to peo­ple. It’s hugely em­bar­rass­ing and should not have hap­pened.

“In the wrong hands it could po­ten­tially be very help­ful and would save them a lot of time in plan­ning an at­tack.”

The Sun­day Mir­ror has passed the file to Heathrow in­tel­li­gence chiefs. The man who found it has been in­ter­viewed by air­port se­cu­rity chiefs.

In­sid­ers ad­mit­ted it sparked a “very, very ur­gent” probe and that it posed “a risk to na­tional se­cu­rity”.

One doc­u­ment high­lighted re­cent ter­ror at­tacks to il­lus­trate the type of threat Heathrow could face. It ref­er­enced the Ley­ton­stone Tube stab­bing in 2015, the Tu­nisia beach mas­sacre which claimed the lives of 30 Bri­tish tourists the same year and the 2016 bomb­ing in Is­tan­bul’s Atatürk in­ter­na­tional air­port.


And the me­mory stick was found just days af­ter US in­tel­li­gence warned Is­lamic State ji­hadists and al-Qaeda are plan­ning more mass-ca­su­alty at­tacks on the scale of the 9/11 hi­jack­ings.

Last year ter­ror­ists threat­ened to bring down a US-bound plane fly­ing out of Heathrow dur­ing In­de­pen­dence Day cel­e­bra­tions.

Mean­while, US court pa­pers last year re­vealed an al-Qaeda leader per­son­ally trained a for­mer McDon­ald’s worker in bomb-mak­ing tech­niques to carry out a sui­cide at­tack in the ar­rivals hall at Heathrow – in­struct­ing him to tar­get pas­sen­gers ar­riv­ing from Amer­ica and Is­rael.

And ear­lier this month MI5’s Di­rec­tor Gen­eral An­drew Parker said the cur­rent ter­ror­ism threat was the worst in his 34-year ca­reer.

He de­scribed it as “mul­ti­di­men­sional, evolv­ing rapidly and op­er­at­ing at a scale and pace we have not seen be­fore”.

Keep­ing Heathrow safe – with four pas­sen­ger ter­mi­nals and one for cargo – is a mighty task. More than 80 air­lines fly 75 mil­lion pas­sen­gers a year to 185

des­ti­na­tions in 84 coun­tries. A spokesman for the air­port said: “Heathrow’s top pri­or­ity is the safety and se­cu­rity of our pas­sen­gers and col­leagues. The UK and Heathrow have some of the most ro­bust avi­a­tion se­cu­rity mea­sures in the world and we re­main vig­i­lant to evolv­ing threats by up­dat­ing our pro­ce­dures on a daily ba­sis.

“We have re­viewed all of our se­cu­rity plans and are con­fi­dent that Heathrow re­mains se­cure.

“We have also launched an in­ter­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion to un­der­stand how this hap­pened and are tak­ing steps to pre­vent a sim­i­lar oc­cur­rence in fu­ture.”

EX­POSED Queen’s route at air­port

ALERT MI5’s An­drew Parker

PA­TROL Armed cop on guard at Heathrow

AIR­PORT GUARD Po­lice face a con­stant bat­tle to keep Heathrow safe and the USB leak could com­pro­mise them TER­ROR GIFT USB me­mory stick AIR SCARE Jet at Heathrow

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