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British minister caught dumping secret memos in trash bins

October 14, 2011 17:13 IST

A British minister has been caught dumping secret papers, including intelligence summaries on Al Qaeda's links to Pakistan, in trash cans at a park in London, in a new embarrassment for Prime Minister David Cameron.

Oliver Letwin, a Cabinet office minister and considered a right hand man of Cameron, was caught dropping documents into trash cans in St James park on five occasions.

The throwaway included sensitive correspondence on terrorism, national security and his constituent's private details, the Daily Mirror reported.

It said, the minister left in bins, for all to see documents dating from July 27, 2010 to September 30, 2011 and contained five intelligence and security committee letters. The paper trashed also included intelligence summaries relating to Al Qaeda and its links to Pakistan.

The new controversy comes close on the heels of a political row over Defence Minister Liam Fox taking his friend on an official tour to Sri Lanka.

Calling it a shocking security scandal, the tabloid claimed that it had witnessed 55-year-old Letwin dumping more than hundred papers in a security breach in St James Park, a stone's throw from 10 Downing Street.

Letwin is one of prime minister's closet advisers and has access to the highest level of government. The paper said it first spotted Letwin publicly disposing of secret memos on September 7, while he strolled out at 7 in the morning from the back gate of Downing Street.

The minister and Cameron's Eton chum was not only caught dumping papers, but even handing papers to a rubbish collector who threw them in his waste bag.

But Letwin's office said papers were not "sensitive". A Cabinet office spokeswoman said, "Oliver Letwin does some of his parliamentary and constituency correspondence in the park before going to work and sometimes disposes of copies of letters there. They are not documents of a sensitive nature."

Prasun Sonwalkar in London
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