Am I the only person surprised at the fact that when top secret files concerning Al Queda and Iraq are accidentally left on the London tube they are found by an ordinary member of the public and then handed over…to the BBC? Given the BBC’s opposition to the war in Iraq and its inability to understand that Al Queda is a terrorist group, I find it odd that such an organisation is handed such sensitive files. Would the London police not have been the obvious destination? I note that BBC’s security correspondent, Frank Gardner, immediately starts leaking the content, as we would expect. There is only one thing in the world worse than losing top secret security file and that is the BBC finding them!

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66 Responses to TERROR FILES AT THE BBC.

  1. Mailman says:

    I think this speaks volumes about the kind of person that inhabits our society these days.

    Instead of handing the documents to the police they, after probably having a good read, hand them to a news agency who then electronically copies the documents and starts spreading the story like its sliced bread!

    If this country was serious about terrorism and clamping down on crime the police would investigate and then prosecute the person who found the documents and then also do over the BBC for breaching security by copying the documents.

    That is of course after the numpty who lost them in the first place gets a good old fashioned beating!



  2. PaulS says:

    David Vance

    Yes it is odd that someone finding top secret documents would give them to a journalist.

    A sign perhaps of how little the public trusts the government, the Police or any other form of officialdom.

    Not surprising though. Last night the State trashed another of our ancient liberties with the help of the DUP. By abandoning part of what we stand for, it did the terrorists’ job for them.

    I don’t pretend to understand Ulster politics, but it seems very odd that the DUP wants to prop-up the discredited Gordon Brown.

    I had hoped the BBC would put the DUP on the spot and get them to explain why they did this. I haven’t seen or heard anything like that on this morning ….perhaps BBC Northern Ireland covered it?

    What’s your take….?


  3. Anonymous says:

    Since the BBC is riddled with anti-Israel, anti-USA, anti-UK twats the person handing over such documents to them should be for the high jump as well as the knob-head who lost them in the first place.

    The BBC waited until Gordo won his 42-day vote though before revealing this story. Did they sit in them deliberately to not make life difficult for him? Anoter phase in Operation Save The Bogey Eater’s Arse?


  4. starfish says:

    I would also like to know just how long the BBC sat on this information

    The following should be prosecuted:

    The person losing the document – a jail term seems appropriate in my view, given that he has broken at least 6 security rules

    The person finding it (all such documents clearly state that if found they must be handed in to the nearest POLICE station, (s)he must have passed any number of police and police stations on their way to the BBC)

    Anyone at the BBC handing it on to anyone other than the Police

    Anyone that has read it – they have absolutely no right to access its contents

    What will actually happen? Nothing I suspect

    I smell something fishy – and it is not the contents of Baldrick’s apple crumble


  5. David Vance says:


    It’s smirks all round and well done DUP. Sickening.


  6. only me says:

    i too found it a wee bit perplexing that this Top Secret Document was not handed into the police

    maybe the person was a Beeb employee or thought they could make a few quid selling the ” story” to the press

    although, maybe the person finding it thought they would end up getting interrorgated by the security services and spend 42 days in Jail if the handed it into the police


  7. Mailman says:

    I support the 42 day detention change…what ever it takes to defeat terrorism and all that!

    It amazes me how simple that sharmi chick was trying to make the 42 day detention problem in that people will just be banged up without knowing why they are being banged up.

    Then again, its very important for her that people believe anyone, anywhere, anytime can be locked up without knowing why they have been locked up because once people believe that she can then push what ever surrender policy she wants!



  8. Jack Bauer says:

    Totally agree DV.

    My thought exactly. The whole “incident” stinks.

    If you “find” someone else’s property in a public place, isn’t handing it over to a “third party” in fact, stealing it?


  9. Barry says:

    Or perhaps the member of public thought it was in the public interest that our security people are being so lax about top secret documents.

    The majority of people in this country still trust the BBC a lot more than the average tabloid, although that number is diminishing rapidly.

    Or maybe that person was hoping for a decent payday – earn back that licence fee.


  10. Emil says:

    Always supposing the documents were ever actually lost on a train in the first place…….


  11. Jack Bauer says:

    Always supposing the documents were ever actually lost on a train in the first place…….
    Emil | 12.06.08 – 12:36 pm | #

    The point I was alluding to in the first place.

    And to support DV, why would anyone concerned with “national security” hand them into the BBC of all places. As they couldn’t give a toss about security.


  12. Andrew Cramb says:

    So far we only have the BBC’s version of events.


  13. Arthur Dent says:

    So far we only have the BBC’s version of events

    Indeed and why would anyone belive that.


  14. jimbob says:

    gardner has clearly brok the law – section 5 of the official secrets act 1989.

    he has disclosed that there is a “damning assessment” of the iraq sewcurity forces.

    even though this may be in the public domain it is still a criminal offence to disclose this info. there is no blah blah journalism public interest defence.

    likewise the person that gave it to gardner.

    first we have Nasreen Suleaman (dont panic i’m islamic!) with her silence re 7/7 bombers flight from justice, now this.

    book me my handcart now. destination h*ll…


  15. jimbob says:

    please note what happened to 2 recent defendants found guilty under section 5 OSA 1989.



  16. jimbob says:

    sorry try this



  17. katherine says:

    Surely the DUP are being totally consistent voting for 42 days as they more than most know about terrorism


  18. only me says:

    unfortunately, Mr Gardner’s journalst ID card is a get out of jail free card


  19. David Vance says:


    Indeed they do. They sit in power with terrorists.


  20. Peter says:

    What kind of idiot handed this secret file to the BBC? Everyone knows you should hawk it round the tabloids first.


  21. Jim Kurtz says:

    Is there a petition anywhere to end the scandal of the £3.4 billion pa licence fee? Is it not tiem there was a mass movement to end this ridiculous poll tax a make the BBC a voluntary subscription service?


  22. Anonymous says:

    What kind of idiot handed this secret file to the BBC? Everyone knows you should hawk it round the tabloids first.
    Peter | 12.06.08 – 2:13 pm

    Yeah, it seems strange that they didn’t take it to The News of The World first. Maybe they thought that taking it to the BBC was the same as returning it to the government, because it’s hard to tell the difference between the BBC / Labour Party now, isn’t it?


  23. Martin says:

    DV: Yes. This story is just amazing. Am I the only one who doesn’t believe a word of it?

    NO ONE would take such documents with them and even less get them out to read on the train.

    I’m suggesting that the Government AND the BBC are involved here.

    Frank Gardner is a Government Stooge.

    Firsty he holds on to these files for a day (they were reported missing on the 10th)
    Then he “claims” he doesn’t know who handed them in (well someone must or how did the BBC get hold of them?)

    Then after all this Gardner tells us that apart from having TOP SECRET written all over them much of the information is already in the public domain. Like we don’t know the Iraqi Police is corrupt.

    Then Gardner releases this information on BBC News 24 JUST BEFORE the 6PM vote in the Commons. Why then? Just in case Gordon lost and there were calls in the media for Brown to go? What you need is a nice diversionary story. Now which organisation can be relied upon to back Gordon? Why the BBC of course.

    This whole thing stinks and I hope that the “proper” journalists out there investigate.

    I suggest that the documents are fake, they don’t contain any real information and we will never hear about the “suspended person” again.

    I’d point out that some say why would Brown let such a story come about? Well given the choice between the media talking about him losing a vote in the Commons and possibly having to resign (or calling for a general election) OR a story about another load of lost dats that he can say is nothing to do with him, which do you think he’d prefer to be talking about.

    What a corrput bunch of twats Nu Labour and the BBC are.


  24. Martin says:

    There is something very odd about this story.

    1. The files go missing on the 10th and are found on the 11th at the BBC.

    2. Frank Gardner claims he knows nothing about the person who dropped them off

    3. The files were just waiting ot be found (orange folder with TOP SECRET written all over them) yet appear to contain nothing of interest or that isn’t already known about.

    4. Frank gardner announces the release of this information just before the important vote in the Commons. The BBC wouldn’t have done that unless there was good reason. I think it was so that if Broon lost the vote there would be another spolier story (the use of a spoiler story is already common in the media) that could be used to deflect calls for Broon to resign had he lost.

    5. The BBC had total control of this story (just like the Spelman non story) so they could make it more or less important depending on the result for Broon (as they have done). Sky kept leading with the 42 day vote, the BBC with this story.

    6. Broon will get flak for this, but he won’t be asked to resign and he can blame someone else (something he’s good at)

    The BBC have in my view now gone Over the top. There is no shame in them backside licking their paymasters.


  25. Biodegradable says:

    Sky kept leading with the 42 day vote, the BBC with this story.

    I was flipping between BBC World and Sky waiting for the Commons vote and it was Sky that ran with the “breaking news” first.

    Perhaps the BBC ran it on News 24 or another BBC channel but I saw it first on Sky and some minutes later on BBC World.


  26. Peter says:

    “1. The files go missing on the 10th and are found on the 11th at the BBC.”

    Was the file found on an inbound or an outbound train.
    Outbound makes the scenario less probable.

    The usual place lost property gets handed in is the train station.

    Police stations are the next most obvious.

    If there is an address on the file,many people would simply post it back.

    The BBC is the least convenient and most unlikely place to take anything.I don’t know about anyone else but, it would be half a day’s work getting to the regional BBC offices.Even then,who do you take it to? without that it wouldn’t get past the doorman or reception.Without a recipient,the file would languish where it was left until,if ever it caught somebody’s attention.Even then anonymous mail takes forever to work its way through big organisations.

    Sorry. whoever left the file had to have a name and enough push to get it delivered.

    To my mind this was a deliberate leak.


  27. Martin says:

    Bio: Nope I was watching BBC News 24 when they had Frank Gardner on. I can’t remember the exact time but it was a few minutes before 6PM. You are correct that very shortly afterwards Sky put a breaking news ticker up about it as well.

    Its very strange why Gardner had sat on this story all day. It wasn’t as if there was a lot to read (8 pages)

    Whatever you think, why wait until just before 6PM? Why not let the vote go through, then release it afterwards? or do it during the afternoon? In fact why not release it so Cameron could bring it up in PMQ’s?

    I’m not conspiracy theory person (9/11 was committed by Muslim terrorists, not George Bush or Mosad) but if I found a Top Secret document I’d hand it straight to the Police.

    Why not go to ITV or Sky? Perhaps the person who just happened to “find them” works for the BBC?

    So much stinks here.


  28. Martin says:

    Peter: See my post above. Unless the person involved worked at the BBC themselves?

    The fact these TOP SECRET documents don’t actually say much makes me think this was a setup do give Brown a break if he lost the vote last night.

    If this does turn out to be the case (if the person who found them at Waterloo can be traced – and the Police may well have CCTV at Waterloo or get fingerprints off them) then the BBC will be in BIG TROUBLE.


  29. Andy says:

    What with the recent re-hashing of 1990’s news concerning Tory Party chairman Caroline Spelman and now this obvious piece of chicanery…

    The BBC/Nulab are getting more desperate by the minute.


  30. Mailman says:

    Why blame this on some convoluted conspiracy when simple incompetence explains everything?

    Some of you, I think, are seeing more to this than is really there.



  31. Peter says:

    If the file was found at Waterloo the obvious thing would be to hand it in at there,or to the Railway Police.


  32. Peter says:

    If the file had simply progressed through the normal channels rather than ending up at the BBC,I would agree.
    Incompetence,natural for Nu Labour myrmidons,but the BBC just happening to acquire the files?


  33. David Preiser (USA) says:

    I don’t see that this takes the heat off Brown much at all. Even if the story simply takes up airtime that could otherwise be devoted to reporting on his difficulties, it doesn’t make him look good anyway. This BBC article seems to agree with the Lib-Dems that it’s a bit of an own goal for Mr. Brown.

    It also makes no sense that a private citizen would turn these in to the BBC. Where is the interview, from any media outlet? Given the nature of these documents – important information on one of the BBC’s favorite causes – I can’t find any explanation for this other than an anti-this-war civil servant got his hands on some documents that would server useful to the BBC’s cause.

    I agree with jimbob that it is a criminal offense for this mysterious “fellow passenger” to give the files to the BBC rather than go to the police, or a government office. But that’s probably not what really happened.

    No, this is about Iraq, plain and simple. That’s more important to the editors at the BBC than massaging the daily fortunes of Brown. In this case, they got their hands on something they felt would boost their cause, which is to promote the “Iraq is a total failure, the evil Booosh is defeated” narrative. These documents play right into that, and the boys on the fourth floor jumped to it, Mr. Brown and his vote be damned. To hell with government security as well, apparently.

    And some idiot civil servant (yet another one romantically connected to someone at the BBC, perhaps?) decided to give them a boon.

    The BBC really did lay out their priorities for all to see with this little incident.


  34. Ethan says:

    The thing I do not understand is why there is such a big gap between the files being found on the train on tuesday morning and the bbc breaking the news on Wednesday evening. Brown recieved his usual bashing at PMQs, but imagine how Brown’s argument on 42 days would have fallen apart if Cameron had been able to mention the total imcompetence of Cabinet Office employees, in dealing with counter terrorism data? Why didn’t the bbc release the information on Tuesday night or Wednesday morning. It was of national interest, surely thats what the bbc is meant to be interested in, isn’t it?


  35. Martin says:

    Mailman: Explain WHY the BBC held onto the files for 24 hours? Explain why they released the story just before the most important vote in Broon’s career?

    Do you see people reading TOP SECRET files on trains all the time?

    Were they found by a beeboid?

    Why were these files so TOP SECRET not only did Frank Gardner read them (and presumably other beeboids as well) but then says they don’t contain anything we didn’t know already. Not very top secret then?


  36. Martin says:

    Ethan: Well if you believe that the BBC likes to bum lick Nu Labour when would you break the story? Just before PMq’s so Broon could get a kicking? or just before a vote which if he lost could well spell the end of his leadership?

    This story will be forgotten in days (already dropping down the storyline, in fact it’s been less of a story than that evil tory Caroline Spelman) but it would be a great spoiler for the media if Broon had lost last night.

    Like I say even if you believe the BBC story ( I don’t) why didn’t the person hand the files in to the Police (there are plenty of them around at Waterloo) straight away?


  37. Martin says:

    David Preiser (USA): Sorry but you need to understand that the media would have been after Broon’s blood last night if he had lost the vote. The whole attention of the meida would have been fixed on will he now resign.

    This story allowed the BBC to drop the 42 day vote down the order to story number 2 (Sky kept it at numbner 1). Broon can live with this story no problem as they just blame a civil servant. What he needed was a big story that would deflect enough attention from him losing the vote.

    It’s a bit like cutting off a finger to save an arm. You lose something, but you keep most.

    Broon needed the co-operation of the BBC in this.

    Again. The files went missing on the 10th, yet the BBC didn’t admit to having them until the 11th at 6PM. I think Gardner didn’t call the Police until just before. What were the BBC doing with the files for so long? How long did Gardner have them in his presence?


  38. Peter says:

    David Preiser,
    “I agree with jimbob that it is a criminal offense for this mysterious “fellow passenger” to give the files to the BBC rather than go to the police, or a government office”

    I am no legal expert,but it is probable that removing lost property from the railways is still a criminal offense.
    It used to be that items had to be handed to the guard or the main line lost property office,even the railway police.


  39. Martin says:

    BBC 6PM News This story is now relegated to the second half of the news (story number 5 I think).

    Gardner says files were found at about 9am on the 10th, but handed to him pm on the 11th.

    So this person who had the files held on to them for over 24 hours without handing them to the Police?

    Are we really supposed to fall for this?

    If you had TOP SECRET documents wouldn’t you just want rid?

    24 hours not to hand to the Police but to hand to the BBC instead?

    The more I hear of this (and the way the BBC are killing it) the more it stinks.


  40. David Preiser (USA) says:


    I’m sorry, but I fail to see how this story would have had done much to take the spotlight off Brown enough for him to withstand calls for his resignation. David Davis stole the spotlight anyway (as if they didn’t suspect he would), so they didn’t even need a distraction. Not only that, but the BBC doesn’t like this 42 Days idea, and judging by this, they aren’t real happy about the vote outcome:

    Was victory worth it for Brown?

    In any case, if they are so hell bent on protecting Mr. Brown at all costs, why release a damaging report right then? Why not wait until 10pm, or letting it lead the next morning? Surely that would help the Brown cause much more, and it’s not like a professional news production operation can’t switch gears during a news broadcast and hold something back for later.

    I still think the Iraq angle trumped anything to do with Brown’s fortunes on the day. If he lost the vote, I think they would have withheld it further. Since he won, and Davis stole the headlines on that issue (like they didn’t know he would), the BBC was free to report on the documents. The negative light shed on Iraq was just too precious for them to pass up, regardless.

    While I think it’s possible for an idiotic civil servant to behave carelessly with highly sensitive material (it happens everywhere), they don’t take files out and leave them on the seat like that. And nobody’s first thought upon finding classified material is “I’d better go to the BBC.”


  41. Millie Tant says:


    An envelope containing the documents was found on a Surrey-bound train at Waterloo, we are told by the Beeb.

    Now, I am wondering if the train that was bound for Surrey, could be one which had just come into Waterloo and was due to go out again. So it could have been left on the seat by someone who had just arrived at Waterloo from Surrey on the way to work.

    Things are usually left on seats at journey’s end and besides, if the person was going to Surrey, he would still have been on the train with the docs – in other words he would not have left them behind at Waterloo.

    It is still a bit puzzling to me, though. It says that the docs were in an orange cardboard envelope that was left on the seat.

    However, someone who was carrying such highly classified docs would not normally be carrying them in only an envelope. They would have been in a stout briefcase and even if reading them on the train – notwithstanding Gawd and security rules forbidding such a thing for top-secret docs – I would have thought a reader would be likely to have them resting either on top of the closed briefcase placed on the lap or inside the briefcase with the lid open or at worst, have them on the lap and ready to put straight back into the briefcase that had been left on the floor by the side of the seat or at the reader’s feet or on the overhead shelf. I wouldn’t really have expected them to become separated from the reader’s hands and /or briefcase to the extent that it would become easy or likely for them to be left on the seat.

    So someone arriving at Waterloo managed somehow to leave such extremely highly classified docs on a seat and someone found them – who happened to be going to a BBC building somewhere in London. Hm…who would know where the BBC was?
    (Heh.I have seen a well known Beeby travelling on the Surrey line into Waterloo. Not saying, nuffink, like…) How likely would a Beeby be to find it? I suppose it is possible. Otherwise I would have thought any ordinary passenger would find it easier to locate the police at Waterloo or elsewhere in London than to find the BBC. I know I would. It’s a strange one, whatever way you look at it, considering the level of classification of the docs.

    Mind, the whole thing is not helped by the sloppy report on the BBC website which meanders back and forth between different descriptions of the classification level – it says they were top secret, then it quotes a Cabinet Office spokesman as saying they were “secret”. Yet a Minister from another department is quoted as saying they were top secret. WHich is it? It is this kind of sloppiness and lack of attention that I hate about the BBC’s reporting.


  42. Peter says:

    “And nobody’s first thought upon finding classified material is “I’d better go to the BBC.”
    Don’t forget Joel.


  43. Martin says:

    David Preiser: Yes, but Gardner did his live piece to News 24 literally minutes before the vote in the Commons. It was a spoiler story. One that would be big and would draw the sting of the media who would have been gunning for Brown if he had lost the vote.

    I think you’re suggesting why not have a “good news story” instead? Well they are harder to come by and the media is less inclined to promote them.

    There are two possible theories to this story.

    1. The whole thing is a setup between the BBC and Nu Labour

    2. The story is real, but the BBC decided that to release it just before the vote in the Commons would help deflect media attention if he (McBean) lost the vote.

    David Davis didn’t resign until today so that made little difference.

    Much of the media had dropped the 42 day story this morning anyway (well the BBC had) in favour of Sir Alan Sugar and the “Apprentice” which was everywhere on the media (even ITV and Sky News)

    The 5 lite phone in wasn’t about missing Top Secret documents or 42 detention. It was about “have you ever lied on your CV?” Very important. Not!

    You also have to remember David that this Government has been losing sensitive data for years. The public just don’t take much interest now. The media might (and the BBC pushed the story for a few hours, then killed it)

    Just think this story has not had anything like the amount of hype since yesterday that the non story of Caroline Spelman had. But for a few hours last night at a critical time for Broon it was. It was there just in case and the BBC cntrolled it all the way through. They had the ability to push it (to draw attention away from McBean) or kill it if Gordon did OK (as they have now done).


  44. Martin says:

    Millie Tant: What no one has explained is why the person who found the TOP SECRET files held on to them for over 24 hours.


  45. Millie Tant says:


    ANd presumably the BBC is “protecting its sources” and refusing to say who handed them to the BBC. So how will we ever find out why the person (alllegedly) held on to them for twenty four hours. We only have the BBC’s word for the 24 hours.


  46. David Preiser (USA) says:


    Why not wait another few minutes for the vote outcome? And if people don’t care so much about the mishandling of sensitive data anymore, then why would the BBC think this was good enough for a distraction?


  47. TPO says:

    I’d like to think that I set the hares running on this one here when I posted on it yesterday at 8:30 pm


    But I have to say I’m with mailman on this one. A cock up on the part of the civil servant on the train.
    Look at it further. We are told that the documents were found on a train going to Surrey from Waterloo in the early morning and were found no later than 9:00 am. We have been told that the person responsible works in the Cabinet Office’s Intelligence and Security Unit, which is part of the Joint Intelligence Unit and that he had authority to remove the documents.
    To my knowledge there would be no reason for the documents to be travelling from Waterloo to Surrey in the morning except for one reason, that being that the poor sod who lost them had been up all night working on the assessment or something associated with it and was going home for some kip time.
    Having thought about the reason as to why the BBC were the recipients of these documents, I can only conclude that the finder is either employed by the BBC or has a relative who is employed by the BBC.

    Now as to the documents themselves, BBC World obligingly showed one of the document headers albeit quite briefly. Anybody who chose to freeze-frame it, like I did, could read it. The header reads:

    JIC(08 ) 087
    Copy No. ????
    Paper was discussed by the JIC and approved on 5 June 2008

    Then there was Frank Gardner’s commentary in which he says that the documents were for the Prime Minister and commissioned by the Foreign Secretary, the Defence Secretary and the Home Secretary and that they were so sensitive that there was a limited distribution list and all copies were numbered.

    A few observations. Firstly this particular document is not rated at the highest level of secrecy, Secondly it’s interesting that New Zealand is no longer routinely included on these distributions, due in no small part to some of the odd things emanating from Helen Clark’s labour government. Thirdly it’s the 87th document of the year and fourth, the document, in its original format, came into existence long before 5th June 2008.
    Now as to Gardner’s comments, which show up his ignorance on these things. Gordon Brown’s name would be the third on the list. The production of this assessment would be at the request of the respective Ministries (normal practice for stakeholders) and not the ministers. All such documents have a distribution list (usually no more than about 40 to 50 and not always named individuals but often specific departments) and lastly all such documents are numbered as a matter of course.

    Lastly the orange folder shown by the BBC being put into a police forensic bag is a bog standard, buy over the counter in packs of 10 at W H Smiths. We all used them.

    What I do find a puzzle is why did the BBC sit on the story for over 24 hours.


  48. Andrew Cramb says:

    Surely nobody is suggesting that the whole story is a fabrication ?


  49. TPO says:

    Andrew Cramb | 12.06.08 – 7:54 pm |

    The documents have all the appearances of being authentic.

    Welcome back, good to see you here. I usually post as Andy C at the DT.


  50. Martin says:

    David Preiser: This was a distraction story for the media not the public. Like I said before there are two possibilities here

    1. The whole thing is a fabrication between the BBC and Nu Labour

    2. The loss of the document is real (and just a cock up as TPO points out) and the BBC released it at a time when it would be the most helpful to Brown.

    I think the BBC did it so on the off chance Brown lost (and no one was sure right up to the vote) it would help deflect some of the media, which of course it did do. Remember, no one else had access to this story, so the BBC could control when it went out and what info was released.

    As TPO points as well as me Frank Gardner has not explained WHY the document was held for over 24 hours by “someone” before he had it. Note Gardner never said it wasn’t until PM yesterday the BBC had it, but that HE had it. So was someone else at the BBC sitting on it? If so who and why?