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Operation Purple Wizard threatened by unable seamen

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A top Navy Officer was hauled before a court martial yesterday after a laptop packed with military secrets was nicked from his car.

Commander Paul Lloyd took the computer without permission from his top-security base in London. The father-of-four then left the machine, floppy disks and documents overnight in the boot of his car which parked outside his flat in north-west London last August.

To his horror, the seadog emerged the next day to find a thief had stolen the lot.

The disks and documents later turned up on nearby Stanmore Common, but the laptop was never traced.

The disks contained highly-sensitive information, including details of an operation involving aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious - codenamed Operation Purple Wizard.

Lloyd, who is in charge of contingency planning for the armed forces and helped plot operations in Kosovo and Sierra Leone, was yesterday given a severe ticking off for the laptop bungle.

The court martial in Portsmouth was told military chiefs were "staggered" when they discovered the officer - who had a previously unblemished record - had breached security rules by leaving the device in the car.

According to today's tabloids, Lloyd admitted he: kept secret documents on the wrong colour-coded disk; failed to disconnect the notebook's hard drive; didn't tell a security officer where he was taking the laptop; and left the kit overnight in an unsupervised vehicle.

The 39-year-old was warned by court martial president Commodore Julian Bradshaw: "Your error cannot be overlooked, you will be severely reprimanded."

The computer cock-up is just one of many bungles concerning secret data going walk-about on official's laptops. Earlier this year bungles from MI5 and MI6 agents resulted in highly-sensitive information going missing - on one occasion this followed a drunken binge in a London tapas bar. ®

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