England

West Midlands Police officer admits Official Secrets Act charge

Assistant Chief Constable Marcus Beale
Image caption Senior West Midlands Police officer Marcus Beale was suspended after being charged last month

A senior counter terrorism officer who left top secret papers in his car before they were stolen has been fined.

Asst Ch Con Marcus Beale, 54, left the documents in the boot for five days while he carried out errands, including a pub visit and a shopping trip.

He pleaded admitted leaving the papers in a locked briefcase, which was stolen from an unmarked police car in May.

Beale was fined £3,500 at Westminster Magistrates' Court. He had been suspended, West Midlands Police said.

The senior officer pleaded guilty to failing to safeguard information under the Official Secrets Act.

The vehicle was parked at an East Midlands railway station for several days while Beale went on a weekend holiday with his wife.

The briefcase contained four confidential documents, including one that was Top Secret - the highest level of classification.

'Compromise national security'

The papers included minutes from a high-level counter terror meeting, counter terrorism local profiles and details of regular organised crime.

Prosecutor Jane Stansfield said if the documents were made public, it could lead to a "compromise in national security" and "present a specific risk to individuals or communities".

Potential repercussions could include a "compromise in intelligence and internal relationships in the intelligence services".

She said the Top Secret document was so sensitive it should not have been taken out of the police building and the briefcase and documents it contained had not been recovered.

Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot said: "No training is needed for a police officer to know that you should not be leaving anything of value in a locked car for five minutes let alone five days."

West Midlands Police said he had been suspended on full pay after he received the summons to court in November.

Duncan Atkinson QC, mitigating, said Beale would be the subject of disciplinary proceedings after sentence.

He said he had played a crucial role in fighting terrorism in the UK.

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