DEFENCE officials are investigating how sensitive papers naming 28 soldiers selected for sniper training came to be sold in a used car along with an Army base pass.
The documents, seen by the Yorkshire Post, contain details of servicemen from 10 units including the Yorkshire Regiment’s 3rd Battalion, which is among troops currently in Afghanistan.
The course roll, which also identifies soldiers from the regiment’s 1st Battalion, was found under the spare tyre by the car’s new owner.
Snipers’ identities are closely guarded under the Ministry of Defence’s operational security procedures to protect them from retribution attacks by enemy sympathisers on home soil.
An Army source said: “We have a duty of care to provide the best possible support for our soldiers and those who are deemed at risk if their identities are exposed while on operations.
“Snipers fall into that category as they are at the forefront of our fight against the Taliban, and exposing their identities can put them and their families at risk from more extremist elements of society.”
A sniper sued the MoD in July 2010 for failing to prevent him being named by a number of newspapers reporting how he shot dead two Taliban fighters at a 1.5 mile range.
His lawyer Simon McKay described it at the time as a “major breach of security”. The Wetherby-based solicitor told the Yorkshire Post the MoD had now admitted liability for the blunder.
The newly-discovered papers, dated July 2 and 19, 2010, lay hidden for nine months after the car was bought from a Leeds garage last August. The course they detail ran from August 29 to September 24, 2010.
Other units with soldiers listed to have taken part are The Rifles’ 2nd and 3rd Battalions; The Royal Regiment of Scotland’s 2nd, 3rd and 4th Battalions; 2nd Battalion the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment; 2nd Battalion the Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment and 2nd Battalion the Mercian Regiment.
The Army source stressed only around four or five of those named were likely to have passed the difficult course to qualify as snipers, with the possibility of then being deployed on operations.
The MoD would not be drawn on the security risk posed by the loss of the unescorted pass, which is for an unknown base.
A spokesman said: “We take physical security very seriously and have a range of measures in place to control access to military establishments.”
He added: “We take information security extremely seriously and will investigate the incident.”