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Inland Revenue boss quits over 'major ops failure'

Details on up to 15m go missing

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Paul Gray, chairman of Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs, has left his post, apparently taking responsibility for a big data loss by his department.

HMRC is refusing to comment ahead of statement in the Commons by Chancellor Alistair Darling at 3.30 this afternoon.

The surprise departure is reportedly due to an operational failure at the Revenue which led to a massive loss of private data. The Beeb reckons up to 15 million people could be at risk.

Confidential records on 15 million child benefit recipients were transported on CDs in breach of HMRC data protection regulations, the BBC said, and the disks were lost. The Revenue, apparently, does not believe the disks have fallen into the wrong hands.

Gray's resignation letter to staff apologised that some of them may have learnt of his departure through the media. The letter said: "I had hoped to be around for a while longer, and to have had the continuing privilege of leading HMRC towards the vision we have been developing.".

The BBC story is here, and the resignation letter is here.

We'll have more after the Chancellor's statement at 3.30pm.

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