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British government loses personal data of 25m

The British government had admitted 'mislaying' the personal details of 25 million people, exposing them to possible identity fraud and bank theft. The family details and bank account numbers of adults in the country with children under 16 were on two computer discs lost in transit between government offices.

The discs were in the hands of the private courier company TNT at the time. The head of the tax authority, Paul Gray, has quit. A police investigation is underway.

Britain's finance chief, Alaistair Darling, has apologised in Parliament. "The police tell me that they have no reason to believe this data has found its way into the wrong hands," said Darling. "Millions of people across the country will be very concerned by what has happened, and I deeply regret this and apologise for the anxiety which will undoubtedly be caused."

The opposition shadow finance spokesman, George Osbourne, ridiculed the government. "The Prime Minister has said he has shown his government can be competent, and now all he needs is to set out his vision. But there are 25 million people whose personal details have been lost by this government. Never mind the lack of vision, just get a grip and deliver a basic level of competence."

The government has said the details lost were not enough to allow direct access to people's bank accounts, but at the same time it has warned British families to monitor their bank statements closely.


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