Files from the UK’s top-security chemical lab at Porton Down were allegedly found in a public dumpster. A former MI5 agent told RT that, if true, it could have been done by a spy or whistleblower
British tabloid the Daily Star claimed to have discovered thousands of pages of documents from the Defense Science and Technology Laboratory at Porton Down inside a simple wheeled trash bin in a London car park. The publication said that it was initially alerted about the stash of documents last week by “a member of the public.”
The paper shared a photo of its reporter holding a thick pack of white paper as he was standing next to a green garbage container. The documents are dated from the early 1980s to 2017. To back up the potentially bombshell find, the DS provided what appears to be a screenshot of one of the documents, which contains rubberstamp marks signed ‘duty station officer’ and ‘Ministry of Defence’.
The lab at Porton Down is considered to be among the most secretive and heavily-guarded military sites in the world. It is focused on developing “effective countermeasures to the constantly evolving threat posed by chemical and biological weapons.” The site stores samples of Earth’s most deadly pathogens like anthrax, plague, and Ebola, as well as lethal nerve agents used in warfare, such as sarin. The facility also came under the spotlight last year when it was involved in the investigation of the Sergei and Yulia Skripal poisoning case.
Despite the extremely tight security of the lab, the documents contained detailed descriptions of guard duties and the equipment carried by security personnel at the site, according to the Daily Star. What’s more, the home address of one of the guards and “the password to computer systems written in plain text” are also apparently listed there.
The Defense Ministry confirmed to multiple British news outlets that it had launched an investigation into the incident.
Former MI5 officer Annie Machon told RT that “it would be incredibly difficult to get a large number of documents” out of Porton Down. She described three scenarios of how it could have happened if the story is true.
For starters, the top-secret files could have been taken out by a “disgruntled employee” who would then end up “losing their nerve, and just trying to throw them in the rubbish and get rid of them.”
I think the second [scenario] could be that there might have been someone who was working as an agent, a spy, a mole, in Porton Down, who was taking these documents and putting them in what used to be known as a ‘dead letter drop,’ where the handler… would be waiting to pick them up.
The third option is “a whistleblower” from inside providing the information to “a journalist in the same way as they would [to] a spy,” Machon said.
The risks from dumping files from Porton Down are “potentially huge,” the former MI5 agent said, and while passwords “can be changed easily,” revealing the identities of the staff “could be very damaging.”
RT, were this artcile was first published, has reached out to Porton Down for comment.