Monday, March 4

Prime Minister’s left her diary in a public train



Theresa May ’s travel diary was left behind in a public train carriage in a major security breach.

The highly sensitive document contained precise details of the Prime Minister’s plans, including times and locations of her future movements.

It set out exactly when Mrs May would be visiting a named Cheshire hotel away from cameras as well as attending a dinner at a private house.

Former royal bodyguard Inspector Ken Wharfe slammed the serious security breach, saying it was just inexcusable.

A Cabinet Office spokesperson said: We have been made aware of claims around a government document and will investigate accordingly.

No 10 refused to reveal whether the papers were reported lost at the time or if the person who forgot them had been identified.

According to MI5, the UK terror threat is severe, with the risk of an attack from dissident Northern Ireland republicans raised last year to substantial.

The latest security breach came just months after MP Jo Cox was murdered in the street by a far-right extremist.

Mr Wharfe warned: In today’s environment, it becomes a serious security matter when documents like this detailing the hourly movements of a protected person are misplaced. That’s just not acceptable.

Theresa May is given this protection because she is a target and so, of course, this is a serious security risk.

These papers give a detailed assessment of her movements. Had such information reached potential terrorists it could serve to confirm their plans.

But also, importantly, it would highlight the lapse and suggest to those with such terrorist intentions the weakness surrounding their potential target.

The lost papers, passed by a member of the public to the Mirror, included briefing notes for the PM on how to deal with hostile questions from reporters.

They were left on the floor of a first class train carriage on the day Mrs May travelled to Manchester for her first regional cabinet meeting.

A passenger found them just after noon on January 23 as the train continued north to Edinburgh.

It is thought likely they were forgotten by an aide travelling separately to Mrs May. It is unclear if her protection officers were warned immediately after the papers were lost.

Earlier that same morning, the Tory leader had flown on an RAF aircraft from Northolt, West London, to Manchester and was meeting cabinet colleagues at a science park in Warrington.

The notes revealed that, after fielding questions from the media, she would travel by car to The Mere Hotel in Knutsford and stay there for three hours. There she was due to record a video message, phone NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and deal with important briefings from her closest advisors.

The documents said she also planned to meet local Tory figures at a treasurer’s dinner being held in a named private address in Altrincham.

Mr Wharfe, Princess Diana’s protection officer for six years, said: Whoever is with Theresa May on that day has a responsibility to protect her and the papers that detail her movements.

If there are other members of her entourage with those papers, that becomes their personal responsibility.

It is just inexcusable to leave them anywhere. The golden rule is to check your seat before you get off. Nothing, irrespective of its importance, should be left behind. Anyone carrying them should be warned about the security risk and should ensure documents are properly destroyed at the end of the day.

You just can’t leave them for an unknown person to be given a detailed plan for the next 12 hours. Whoever left them behind deserves their knuckles rapped.

On the day, they should have told their boss immediately they realised what they had done.

Then the security officers need to be told. Under those circumstances, they need to reassess the day. I’m not suggesting they would cancel it but they could consider deploying additional security measures so that, in the unlikely event of a threat materialising, they they would have extra protection if needed. Breaches like this are never acceptable.

No 10 would not confirm if anyone had been disciplined for the blunder.

Security expert and former British Army officer Colonel Richard Kemp also criticised the mistake. He said: “This was potentially a very significant security breach. It is extremely serious for any info about the private movements of the Prime Minister to become known.

There is less risk of something being organised against her at short notice. But that is not to say it couldn’t happen.

The risks range from a serious attack to something that could embarrass her. It’s not just her own safety at stake here but the credibility of the country.

People make mistakes but this kind of thing does seems to be happening more often. We have seen classified information left on trains and in other places.