The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Sunday, August 10, 2003

Kelly: Whatever happened to the MOD burn the evidence case?

A week or so, the Kelly plat du jour was a story (originated, I think, in the Telegraph (August 2) (fuller MOD denial in the Observer August 3) to the effect that the MOD took steps to destroy three days after Kelly's death what is referred to as a media plan to deal with the Kelly case.

The extraordinary feature of the story as told - one not picked up on in the media to date, that I can find - lies in the way the document in question was supposedly discovered. From the Observer piece:
The MoD confirmed there had been a security breach on 20 July when guards discovered that a document referring to Kelly had been mistakenly placed in a 'burn bag' to be taken for incineration. The incident would normally have been dealt with internally, but the guards took the unusual step of alerting the Ministry of Defence Police.

The key question is this: if the document was in the burn bag, how could the guards have known what it was? Only, surely, through having rummaged through the entire bag!

I assume that MOD security guards have some kind of security clearance; but are they cleared for the sort of documents liable to find their way into such a bag? Would any sane system for dealing with sensitive waste paper incorporate a stage where the guards tip the bag onto a table and riffle through looking for items that should have been preserved [1]?

Normally, an admission against interest like this (the MOD clearly looking like prats, at best) would tend to be believed on that account. In this case, the MOD's story is so bizarre that, however bad it makes the MOD look, it just doesn't ring true.

Now, I don't flatter myself that I'm the only guy to whom all of this has occurred. So why haven't the media been making hay with this incident, combining as it does evidence of incompetence and suggestions of malice?

A search on Google News comes up with nothing fresh in the last week. And, on the BBC site, not even the original story that was in the Telegraph! Very strange...

  1. Why, one might inquire, wasn't such sensitive material - and surely only sensitive material needed such special treatment? - shredded by security-cleared office staff before being sent out of the building?

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