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Top officer fined for leaving confidential papers in car before they were stolen

A senior counter-terrorism officer, who left top secret documents in the boot of his car while he went on holiday, has been fined for breaching the Official Secrets Act.

Assistant Chief Constable Marcus Beale, who was the counter terrorism lead for West Midlands Police, was charged after the documents later stolen from his car.

Mr Beale left the documents in a locked case in the boot of the vehicle for four or five days, during which time he went shopping, visited the pub and even had a long weekend away with his wife.

The papers, which included information about counter terrorism intelligence and investigations, were stolen from his unmarked police car in May.

Mr Beale said he believed it had been taken by someone who used an electronic device to bypass the security system on his car while it was parked on his driveway on 14 May.

The 54-year-old was fined £3,500 at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Thursday.

Assistant Chief Constable Marcus Beale will now face a disciplinary hearing

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The court heard that the briefcase contained four confidential documents, including one which was Top Secret, the highest level of classification.

The papers also included minutes from a high-level counter terror meeting, counter terrorism local profiles, details of regular organised crime and highly sensitive information about a high-profile investigation.

Mr Beale has been suspended from duty and is due to face disciplinary proceedings.

His lawyer, Duncan Atkinson QC, said it was possible Mr Beale would now lose his job.

He told the court: “It is more likely Mr Beale will keep his job if this court felt that this was a case where a discharge was appropriate rather than a fine.”

The case was heard at Westminster Magistrates Court

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But the court fined him £3,500 after he admitted one charge of failing to safeguard information under the Official Secrets Act.

Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot said: “It’s obviously incredibly dangerous and potentially very difficult indeed that these documents disappeared in the way that they did.

“There is no evidence of in fact what happened to that briefcase, it may be it was an ordinary thief after your iPod who thought there was money in the briefcase but we will never know, it has just disappeared.

“Nevertheless, that a police officer, let alone a very senior police officer, thought it was appropriate to leave a briefcase in the boot of a car which had those sorts of papers in it shows a lack of common sense which was worrying.”

She added: “No training is needed for a police officer to know that you should not be leaving anything of value in a locked car for five minutes let alone five days.”

Article Source : http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/12/07/top-officer-fined-leaving-confidential-papers-car-stolen/

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