Classified Ministry of Defense (MOD) documents have been found at a bus stop in southeastern England, prompting an investigation.
A member of the public, who requested to remain anonymous, contacted the BBC after finding nearly 50 pages of classified papers “in a soggy heap” behind a bus stop in Kent last June 22.
The Ministry of Defense confirmed the incident on June 27.
“We take security extremely seriously and have launched an investigation. The employee reported the loss at the time. It would be inappropriate to comment further,” MOD stated in a tweet.
The BBC reported that the documents confirmed a mission described by the MOD as an “innocent passage through Ukrainian territorial waters” with guns covered and the ship’s helicopter stowed in its hangar. It added that the mission was conducted “in the expectation that Russia might respond aggressively.”
Last June 23, HMS Defender passed through waters off the coast of Crimea, prompting a dispute with Russia.
Most of the pages of the classified documents were marked “official sensitive” and contained emails and PowerPoint presentations, including arms exports campaigns and “sensitive observations about areas where Britain might find itself competing with European allies,” the BBC reported.
Additionally, one document was marked, “Secret UK Eyes Only.” It contained “highly sensitive” recommendations for the British military footprint in Afghanistan, following United States President Joe Biden’s announcement of withdrawing American forces, according to the BBC.
Shadow Defense Secretary John Healey has called the loss of the classified papers “embarrassing as it is worrying for ministers.”
“Ultimately ministers must be able to confirm to the public that national security has not been undermined, that no military or security operations have been affected and that the appropriate procedures are in place to ensure nothing like this happens again,” Healey told PA Media.
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