Oliver Letwin, and an Unorthodox Approach to Document Disposal

Daily Mail (London), October 15, 2011 | Go to article overview

Oliver Letwin, and an Unorthodox Approach to Document Disposal


Byline: Kirsty Walker Political Correspondent

A MOBILE phone clamped to his ear and deep in conversation, Oliver Letwin looks like a busy man.

Bending over a park bin, he rips up paperwork he has been reading and casually throws it inside.

And there's nothing wrong with that.

Except it now transpires that this is the Tory Cabinet Office minister disposing of sensitive documents about national security and terrorism.

Yesterday, as the Information Commissioner began an investigation into his unorthodox behaviour, Mr Letwin was forced to make a humiliating apology. Downing Street, meanwhile, admitted it was 'clearly not a sensible way to dispose of documents'.

In a clear security breach, Mr Letwin was spotted on five separate occasions binning sensitive correspondence. He reportedly threw out more than 100 pieces of paper in St James's Park, Westminster.

It is claimed that one document described how Parliament's intelligence and security committee - which examines the work of MI5, MI6 and GCHQ - 'failed to get the truth' on Britain's involvement in extraordinary rendition. Others relate to Al Qaeda links to Pakistan; the Dalai Lama; Burmese human rights campaigner Aung San Suu Kyi; Libya and Afghanistan.

Organisations referred to in the papers include the European Commission, the Ministry of Defence, the Home Office, the NHS, the Treasury and the Met Police. Others were said to have contained personal information - such as medical details, names, addresses and telephone numbers - of some of Mr Letwin's West Dorset constituents.

On one occasion the 55-year-old, who as Mr Cameron's policy coordinator has access to the highest levels of government, was spotted dumping files in the park four times in one day - into four bins. …

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