UK Ministry Of Defence Reviews Security Processes After Pentagon Leaks

Minister James Heappey told MPs random bag searches are in place at the MoD.
Healey, Heappey and Ellwood
Healey, Heappey and Ellwood
Parliament TV

The Ministry of Defence is looking at its own security measures after a major intelligence leak in the US, a minister has said.

James Heappey admitted that leaks also happen “too often” in the UK and that “robust efforts” had been made to protect documents.

He told the Commons that random bag searches had been in place at the MoD since last year.

It follows a major intelligence leak in the US that unleashed a series of damaging disclosures about sensitive military operations.

The classified documents have had ramifications around the world, shedding fresh light on US intelligence gathering and the war in Ukraine.

Responding to an urgent question in the Commons, the armed forces minister said: “Suffice to say and I hope the right honourable gentleman, Mr Speaker and the House would be reassured that of course the permanent secretary - on seeing what happened in the DoD last week - has had a good look at what’s going on inside the MoD to make sure if we have any lessons to learn, we do so.”

In response to questions from Labour’s John Healey, Heappey said: “Every time that it [a leak] happens – and I agree with him it happens too often – reviews are put in place, lessons are learnt.

“Both in terms of the way that information is handled digitally and also - because this was the case last year - the way that documents are removed from the building.”

Heappey said on digital security there had been a “wide ranging and robust effort” made to ensure users know how to handle them.

On physical documents, he added: “The secretary of state put in place bag searches - random bag searches - at MoD main building immediately following the leak of hard documents last year and those searches remain in place now.”

Heappey said some of the leaked Pentagon documents had been “apparently manipulated” for disinformation purposes and told MPs to be suspicious of the original content and documents in circulation.

During the exchange, shadow defence secretary Healey described the leak as “of serious concern”.

Meanwhile, Tory MP and chair of the defence committee Tobias Ellwood urged the minister not to “hide behind that general veneer of secrecy” but to be “frank with the House”.

He told the Commons: “If Egypt is intending to supply missiles to Russia surely the world, arguably, should know about this?

“Or if a Russian Su-27 jet did deliberately attempt to fire a missile on an RAF Rivet Joint over the Black Sea last September this is an act of war, the details of which surely should be publicised not hidden away in intelligence files?

“We certainly must avoid another Daniel Ellsberg situation.”

Ellsberg was prosecuted under the Espionage Act in the US in the 1970s over the leaking of top secret documents relating to the Vietnam war.

US Air National Guardsman Jack Teixeira has been arrested on suspicion of leaking the highly classified documents.


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