British official at centre of al-Qaeda document row suspended

Other News Materials 12 June 2008 11:52 (UTC +04:00)

A British government employee at the centre of a scandal over top-secret al-Qaeda documents left on a train in London has been suspended, it was reported Thursday.

The unnamed man was a civil servant in the Cabinet Office, a top government department whose officials work closely with ministers, reported dpa.

The documents, contained in an orange envelope and marked top- secret, were found on a commuter train at London Waterloo station Tuesday and passed to the BBC.

They are understood to contain the latest intelligence assessment on al-Qaeda and a report on the military situation in Iraq, with some "damning" comments on the capabilities of the Iraqi security forces, the BBC said.

The envelope has been handed back to the authorities, while Scotland Yard has launched a major investigation into the "serious breach of security."

Britain shares all its highly-sensitive intelligence with the secret services of key Western allies, especially the US. The papers were marked for "UK, US, Australian and Canadian eyes only."

The incident was an "embarrassment" for the British authorities and was likely to cause consternation among allies, analysts said.