United Kingdom

MoD accused of criminal negligence after Afghan interpreters data leaked

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HUNDREDS of Afghan interpreters have been put at risk after a Ministry of Defence (MoD) blunder.

An email sent to around 250 interpreters seeking relocation from the country inadvertently displayed the names and details of everyone on the list.

Around half an hour after the initial email was sent, another hurried message was dispatched asking recipients to delete it, according to reports.


Interpreters, many of whom are thought to be in hiding after the Taliban took control of Afghanistan, were also urged to change their email addresses after the blunder.

The MoD has now launched an investigation, however MPs have been quick to criticise the error and said it has put lives at risk.

Johnny Mercer, former veterans minister and a veteran himself, said the handling of the crisis had been “criminally negligent”.

He said: “The truth on how we have treated our Afghan interpreters will come out.

“All the back slapping over Operation Pitting masks a criminally negligent performance by the Ministry of Defence and the Home Office on doing our duty to these people.

“I reiterate, the vast majority have been left behind, probably moving house again tonight.”

Liberal Democrat Defence Spokesman Jamie Stone added: “This is shocking and truly a betrayal. It is deeply unworthy of the standards all of us had thought defined British honour.

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“Ministers must see to it that whoever in Government oversaw this horrific blunder is no longer in a position of responsibility.  All decent people will expect no less.”

Labour shadow defence secretary John Healey said: “We told these Afghans interpreters we would keep them safe, instead this breach has needlessly put lives at risk.

“The priority now is to urgently step up efforts to get these Afghans safely to the UK.

“This is the second major data breach from the MoD this year, after sensitive documents were discovered at a bus stop in Kent in June.

“Clearly, the Defence Secretary needs to get his house in order.”

A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Defence said: “An investigation has been launched into a data breach of information from the Afghan Relocations Assistance Policy team.

“We apologise to everyone impacted by this breach and are working hard to ensure it does not happen again.

“The Ministry of Defence takes its information and data handling responsibilities very seriously.”

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