The Guardian and the BBC (see BBC2 tv documentary Who's Watching You ? starts Monday 25th May 9pm) seem to have found out a little more about Yet Another Ministry of Defence Data Privacy / Security Scandal and the subsequent Coverup:
Vetting data included drug abuse and use of prostitutes by senior officers
* David Hencke, Westminster correspondent
* guardian.co.uk, Sunday 24 May 2009 22.30 BST
Sensitive files detailing the extra marital affairs, drug taking and use of prostitutes by very senior officers in the RAF have been stolen, raising fears within the Ministry of Defence that personnel could be vulnerable to blackmail.
Up to 500 people in the service could be affected by the theft. They have been interviewed individually about the possible consequences to them and to their families.
The potentially damaging information was stored on three computer hard drives that went missing from RAF Innsworth, Gloucestershire, last September. The files were not encrypted, so could be opened easily. The RAF disclosed the loss of the hard drives two weeks after they went missing, revealing only that the bank details and home addresses of 50,000 servicemen and women were on the computers.
It kept secret the fact that the "vetting" information about 500 staff had also disappeared. The defence secretary at the time, Des Browne, was not told, nor was Sir Richard Thomas, the then information commissioner. The details were also withheld from parliament.
The outgoing Information Commissioner Richard Thomas may well be in line for knighthood, but he is not yet "Sir" Richard.
What exactly was the point of this coverup by Ministry of Defence bureaucrats ?
Will any of them be punished ?
What use have the Burton and Hannigan reviews of data handling security been in this case ? Less than zero.
In a further statement to the Guardian, the ministry added: "All individuals identified as being at risk received personal one-on-one interviews to alert them to the loss of data, to discuss potential threats and to provide them with advice on mitigating action.
"There is no evidence to suggest that the information held on the hard drive believed to have been stolen from the secure ... site at MoD Innsworth has been targeted by criminal or hostile elements."
So have these "one to one interviews" determined which of these people had the strongest motive for helping with, or instigating, "an inside job" to suppress their own "vetting secrets" ?
How the Ministry of Defence can really be so sure that this data is not in the wrong hands, is a mystery.
Does their definition of "hostile elements" also include supposedly friendly allied foreign intelligence agencies and UK Private Military Contractor / Mercenary companies who employ former UK military personnel ?
Are the current copies of these file now strongly encrypted or not ?
Details of the FOIA requests and the coverup are available from the Jess the Dog blog of the retired RAF officer mentioned at the end of the BBC tv documentary: