MoD official suspended after Afghan interpreters’ details were leaked

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace issued a House of Commons apology and told MPs he “immediately directed investigations” take place

MoD official suspended after Afghan interpreters’ details were leaked

A Ministry of Defence official has been suspended pending investigation following a “significant” data breach relating to interpreters in Afghanistan hoping to come to the UK.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace issued a House of Commons apology and told MPs he “immediately directed investigations” take place after being left angered by the error.

Initial findings show an email to more than 250 people eligible for the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (Arap) who remain in the country was copied to all applicants rather than blind copying them, MPs heard.

People were then advised to delete their email and change their addresses, Mr Wallace confirmed.

According to reports, some of those whose information has been released are in hiding from the Taliban after the militants took control of the battle-torn country last month.

Responding to an urgent question, Mr Wallace told the Commons: “I apologise to those Afghans affected by this data breach and with (the Home Office) we are now working with them to provide security advice.

“As I speak, the Minister for the Armed Forces (James Heappey) is in the region speaking to neighbouring countries to see what more we can do with both third countries and in-country applicants.

“It is an unacceptable level of service that has let down the thousands of members of the armed forces and veterans. On behalf of the Ministry of Defence, I apologise.

“I offer the reassurances that the scheme will continue to operate and bring people back to the United Kingdom for however many are eligible and however long it takes.”

He added: “It was brought to my attention at 2000 hours last night there had been a significant data breach. To say I was angered by this was an understatement and I immediately directed investigations take place.

“Initial findings show that an email was sent at 1744 hours as part of a weekly contact we maintain with Arap currently remaining in Afghanistan. This was copied to all applicants rather than blind copying them.

“The email was immediately recalled on identification of the breach and then a subsequent email was sent advising people to delete their email and change their addresses, many of whom have done.

“So far one individual has been suspended pending the outcome of the investigation and processes for data handling and correspondence processing have already been changed.

“I have directed extensive steps are taken to quantify the potential increased risk to individuals in order to take further steps to protect them.”

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