Secrecy of an elite British Army unit, Military Reaction Force (MRF) in Northern Ireland has been compromised by a researcher who had worked for just 5 days on BBC’s investigative Panorama programme.
The Independent reports, highly sensitive information related to the MRF, a unit said to be the ‘execution squad’ that is linked to 2 fatal shootings including allegations of shooting unarmed civilians during the Troubles, have been compromised by the researcher.
Initially, the researcher was believed to have leaked the confidential materials related to the BBC Panorama’s investigation into rumours surrounding the alleged practices of Lutfur Rahman, the mayor of the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, as she believed the documentary broadcasted in April was not balanced.
According to the report, the files leaked in the memory stick also contain confidential information relating to previous Panorama programme “Britain’s Secret Terror Force,” which was broadcasted last November. The Panorama researcher may or may not have known that the memory stick also contains data related to MRF.
The controversial MRF includes men from the Parachute Regiment, the Special Boat Service, the Special Air Service, and the Royal Marines. The MRF documentary featured 7 members of the plain-clothes Military Reaction Force, anonymously describing the various activities. Names of senior military figures and the identity of at least one serviceman have been leaked.
The UK’s privacy regulator Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has been notified about the security lapse. ICO has confirmed that it is examining the allegations, which can lead to a potential criminal prosecution.
An ICO spokesperson said that the watchdog is aware of a “possible data breach” at the production company Films of Record, which made ‘The Mayor and Our Money’ – the Tower Hamlets Panorama programme.
However it is not certain that how sensitive information related to ‘Britain’s Secret Terror Force,’ made by the Twenty2vision production company, ended up in the Tower Hamlets file.
The BBC has refused to comment on the issue, but claimed there is “a lot of baseless speculation” related to the circumstances in the Panorama programme.