Heathrow chiefs are reeling after a memory stick crammed with confidential information was found in the street posing a risk to national security . Britain s biggest airport1 launched a very, very urgent investigation after the Sunday Mirror alerted them to the frightening security lapse. The USB stick containing 76 folders with maps, videos and documents was not encrypted and did not require a password.
The man who found it plugged it into a library computer and was alarmed at what he saw . It revealed:
- The exact route the Queen2 takes when using the airport and security measures used to protect her.
- Files disclosing every type of ID needed even those used by covert cops 3 to access restricted areas.
- A timetable of patrols that was used to guard the site against suicide bombers and terror attacks4.
- Maps pinpointing CCTV cameras and a network of tunnels and escape shafts linked to the Heathrow Express.
- Routes and safeguards for Cabinet ministers and foreign dignitaries.
- Details of the ultrasound radar system used to scan runways and the perimeter fence.
The scare comes just weeks after Britain s terror threat stood at critical following the Parsons Green Tube bomb bid . It is still at severe.
The files revealed the exact route the Queen takes (Image: Getty)
The USB stick was found by a member of the public and handed to the Sunday Mirror. A security source said: In the wrong hands this would represent a profound threat in terms of terrorism or espionage.
“Aviation security is under the microscope because of the desire by terrorists to bring planes down in a spectacular fashion . Security services would not want this leaked or sold to hostile parties.
Met Police detectives were liaising with airport chiefs to work out how the USB drive, with a massive 2.5GB of data, ended up in the street.
The USB stick was found by a member of the public (stock image)
Airport insiders revealed they were trying to determine if there had been an incompetent data breach or if someone had been accessing files intentionally. Police fear it may have been copied and circulated on the dark web where terrorists and criminals buy information. The level of detail could have taken years to compile and involve a number of different systems.
A police source said: The fear is that this information could have been downloaded and disseminated God knows where.
There are fears the information could have been downloaded (Image: Getty)
“The worry is it ends up on the dark web and used by bad guys to pick holes in airport security. A former counter-terrorism chief who specialises in airport security told the Sunday Mirror: There are serious questions to be answered.
Why was this sensitive material held on an unencrypted memory stick and taken off site ? It s a huge security breach and massively embarrassing for those in charge of security.
“Knowing certain aspects of this information may make it easier for potential attackers to avoid detection.
And the cumulative impact of having so many documents, videos, maps and images all in one place represents a security risk.
A terror expert says there are serious implications (Image: Getty)
The Sunday Mirror was contacted by an unemployed man who found the stick while on his way to the library to search the internet for work. He spotted the memory stick among leaves on the pavement in Ilbert Street, in Queen s Park, West London.
He said: I was curious about what it contained so a few days later, when I went back to the library, I plugged it into the computer . All these files were there . I couldn t believe it. There were at least 174 documents . Some were marked as confidential or restricted but could still be read.
Maps laid bare details of the airport s Royal Suite, used by the Queen, Cabinet members and foreign dignitaries.
The USB stick contained maps of Heathrow (Image: Getty)
And there were photos of X-ray machines and scanning equipment used by Her Majesty. The Royal Suite which costs 2,800 to hire for a single flight is hidden from view in Terminal 5 and guests are driven directly to it. But the memory stick holds images of the route leading up to the suite and satellite images with the location of nearby checkpoints.
Details of screening processes in Windsor Suite used by stars including singer Cheryl Tweedy were also revealed. Other files listed those exempt from screening , details of drivers ferrying VIP guests to the suite and radio codes in the case of an aircraft hijacking .
There were photos of X-ray machines used by the Queen (Image: Getty)
Other maps showed where maintenance tunnels and escape shafts link the airport to the Heathrow Express train line. Satellite images and operating manuals for the Doppler radar surveillance system were also stored.
An expert who helped us examine the memory stick said the information may help facilitate an attack if it fell in the wrong hands. He said: Knowing this information would cut down on surveillance and could potentially make access easier.
Security chiefs will be working hard to ensure there is no physical threat as a result of this breach and changing processes if necessary.
One document highlighted the stabbing at Leytonstone Tube station (Image: Terence Marsden)
“It is not helpful certainly not best practice to have maps and drawings of one of the UK s biggest airports left in the street.
It is serving up intelligence on a plate to people . It s hugely embarrassing and should not have happened.
“In the wrong hands it could potentially be very helpful and would save them a lot of time in planning an attack. The Sunday Mirror has passed the file to Heathrow intelligence chiefs .
The man who found it has been interviewed by airport security chiefs. Insiders admitted it sparked a very, very urgent probe and that it posed a risk to national security .
The Tunisia beach massacre was also referenced (Image: Daily Mirror)
One document highlighted recent terror attacks to illustrate the type of threat Heathrow could face. It referenced the Leytonstone Tube stabbing in 2015, the Tunisia beach massacre which claimed the lives of 30 British tourists the same year and the 2016 bombing in Istanbul s Atat rk international airport.
And the memory stick was found just days after US intelligence warned Islamic State jihadists and al-Qaeda are planning more mass-casualty attacks on the scale of the 9/11 hijackings. Last year terrorists threatened to bring down a US-bound plane flying out of Heathrow during Independence Day celebrations. Meanwhile, US court papers last year revealed an al-Qaeda leader personally trained a former McDonald s worker in bomb-making techniques to carry out a suicide attack in the arrivals hall at Heathrow instructing him to target passengers from the US and Israel.
The attack at Atat rk airport was also mentioned (Image: Oriol Salvador/Flickr)
And earlier this month MI5 s Director General Andrew Parker said the current terrorism threat was the worst in his 34-year career. He described it as multidimensional, evolving rapidly and operating at a scale and pace we have not seen before . Keeping Heathrow safe with four passenger terminals and one for cargo is a mighty task . More than 80 airlines fly 75 million passengers a year to 185 destinations in 84 countries.
A spokesman for the airport said: Heathrow s top priority is the safety and security of our passengers and colleagues.
“The UK and Heathrow have some of the most robust aviation security measures in the world and we remain vigilant to evolving threats by updating our procedures on a daily basis.
We have reviewed all of our security plans and are confident that Heathrow remains secure.
Andrew Parker says the terror threat is the worst it’s been in his 34 year career (Image: PA)
We have also launched an internal investigation to understand how this happened and are taking steps to prevent a similar occurrence in future.”
An alarming breach that could hurt the UK
By Chris Hughes, Defence editor
The implications for a trove of information on airport security falling into the wrong hands are extremely serious and terrifying. Islamic State is known to be pursuing a spectacular to match the 9/11 attacks. Codes, maps, routes used by royals and emergency procedures would be of huge, perhaps inestimable, value to a terror cell.
Crucially, investigators will want to know how and why someone was able to get the information on to a USB stick . And worse, get it out of their workplace then apparently lose it. It is deeply alarming . That it should happen at a time of such a heightened terror threat may show security procedures and controls are not as nailed down as we had all hoped.
But there is another profoundly alarming aspect to this . Repeated attempts to disrupt Britain s infrastructure have been made in recent years by North Korea, among others. This sort of information could be of great value to a hostile foreign intelligence agency .
It could be used to merely expose weaknesses, costing Britain a fortune to resolve.
Or for a more sinister result if open hostility grew towards the UK.
Shocking footage has emerged of a Marks & Spencer1 security guard appearing to body slam a Big Issue vendor after he refused to return to the store for questioning. Witnesses watched in disbelief as the pair wrestled on the floor outside the department store in Covent Garden, Central London. The homeless man can be heard on the video screaming get off me as he desperately tries to escape before being thrown to the cobbles like a rag doll.
He was heard howling in pain as store employees tried to haul him back inside but they let him go after the commotion drew a crowd.
The incident was caught on camera (Image: DRN) The security guard wants to get the man into the M&S store (Image: DRN) He tries to bring the vendor under control (Image: DRN)
Marks & Spencer condemned the behaviour as completely unacceptable and confirmed it is launching an immediate investigation. The dramatic video – filmed by a member of the public on a mobile phone – emerged on social media today. It shows the security guard trying to drag the man towards the store entrance with both arms pinned behind his back.
When he resists, the guard grabs him by the neck and pulls him to the pavement. He puts him in a headlock and says: Stop resisting, stop resisting.
The homeless man holds onto a lamp post in desperation (Image: DRN) The security guard has the vendor in a headlock (Image: DRN)
He manages to free himself but as he is walking away the guard appears to rush up on him from behind and wrap both arms around his shoulders. Onlookers gasp as the man is hurled off the kerb and slammed into the concrete.
Another member of staff tries to block the camera with his hand and goes to assist his colleague. The security guard says get him inside and they start trying to drag him up off the ground.
M&S has launched an investigation (Image: DRN) The homeless man is slammed to the ground (Image: DRN)
The man filming says: What you doing, mate ? Oh, my days. A large crowd gathers on the other side of the street and staff eventually decide to release the man, saying: Don t come back.
It is not known what the man was accused of. A spokeswoman for Marks & Spencer confirmed the security guard no longer works for the company.
A crowd starts to gather due to the commotion (Image: DRN) The camera man can be heard protesting against the vendors physical treatment (Image: DRN)
She added: We re very disappointed to see this footage.
“Nothing justifies this behaviour, it is completely unacceptable and is not tolerated at M&S.
This incident took place over a year ago but was not reported to us at the time.
“Nonetheless, we ve launched an immediate investigation into the incident.
This security guard no longer works on behalf of M&S and we are taking appropriate actions to ensure that this behaviour doesn t happen again. A spokeswoman for the Big Issue said: We are appalled by this shocking and apparently unprovoked attack on a vulnerable person. Big Issue sellers face all manner of hardship on the streets and are frequently subject to abuse, but we would hope that the premises of a major retailer would represent a safe environment.
As an organisation we’ve enjoyed a good relationship with Marks & Spencer over the years, so we sincerely hope this an isolated incident which will be treated as seriously as it deserves to be.
Theresa May faces mounting calls to sack her party chairman after a prankster was able to hand her a P45. Police and Tory chiefs are urgently investigating after Simon Brodkin strolled up to the Prime Minister’s platform during her speech to the party conference. Comedian Brodkin, who performs as Lee Nelson, was briefly arrested but released when police realised he was fully accredited for the bash in Manchester.
Now pressure is growing on Sir Patrick McLoughlin, who oversaw the conference.
One furious MP told the Evening Standard: “Somebody has to take responsibility for the shambles of the past week . Everyone likes Patrick but he has completely f***ed up.”
Lee Nelson, real name Simon Brodkin, walked up to Theresa May and gave her a P45 (Image: Carl Court) He gave a thumbs up to Boris Johnson after telling her she was out of a job (Image: Daily Mirror) The Foreign Secretary and his Cabinet colleagues looked bemused (Image: Daily Mirror)
Another said: “Patrick is a Filofax chairman . We need a Facebook chairman.. . He should now be sacked. Business Secretary Greg Clark failed to defend Sir Patrick today as he branded the fiasco “shocking” and a “huge concern”.
Asked if Sir Patrick was to blame, he said: “I don’t know what part of the weakness of the system it was, but it clearly needs to be established.
“We need to look into it and find out what happened to make sure it can never happen again.”
He added: “He could have had violent intent . I think there is a question as to how that came to happen.”
Ministers have demanded answers over the “weakness of the system” (Image: Getty) Yet Brodkin was fully accredited and had a police-approved conference pass (Image: PA) Conservative chairman Patrick McLoughlin is coming under fire (Image: Getty)
Brodkin was pre-approved, had a valid conference pass round his neck and went through airport-style security scanners before entering the main hall at the Manchester Central conference centre on Wednesday. No one stopped him as he strolled up to the Prime Minister and handed her a mock P45 which she accepted and put under her lectern.
Party staff stood in shock as he walked slowly backwards and gave a thumbs-up to Boris Johnson before eventually being frogmarched out of the hall. Reports today claimed Sir Patrick was already planning to leave before the end of the year, leading to a row about whether he should be rushed out or stay for unity. Home Secretary Amber Rudd1 added she was “very disappointed”, saying: “I am going to continue to follow what’s going on, it’s in the hands of the police and we will make sure we look carefully into how it happened to make sure it doesn’t again.”
Greater Manchester Police Chief Superintendent John O Hare said: “The man had legitimate accreditation which granted him access to the conference site .
In light of this we will be reviewing the accreditation process with the Conservative Party.
All passholders, even Cabinet ministers, have to go through airport-style scanners (Image: Daily Mirror) Snipers were also positioned on nearby rooftops (Image: CHRIS NEILL/MAVERICK PHOTOGRAPHY)
Theresa May’s Tory conference speech 2017
“Even with accreditation, everyone at the conference goes through airport-style searches before being allowed entry to the site.”
Sources told Politico and The Times Sir Patrick was already planning to go and now there is a row about whether he should be rushed out or stay for unity.
One official told Politico Mr McLoughlin “was going anyway and is certainly gone now”.
But another told The Times: “It’s going to look like he’s been fired or is deserting her now.”