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Ex-MI6 man admits to Official Secrets breach

Daniel Houghton has pleaded guilty to trying to disclose and distribute Secret Intelligence Service staff lists after downloading them to a USB drive, but he has denied theft
Written by Tom Espiner, Contributor

A former Secret Intelligence Service employee has pleaded guilty to breaching the Official Secrets Act by downloading confidential files to a USB drive.

Daniel Houghton, an IT graduate who worked for MI6 between 2007 and 2009, was accused of downloading a list of MI6 staff and operatives and attempting to sell the information to a foreign power.

Houghton on Wednesday pleaded guilty to two counts of breaching the Official Secrets Act at the Royal Courts of Justice. Houghton, who appeared in person before Mr Justice Bean, pleaded guilty to the unlawful distribution of sensitive capability files and to the unlawful disclosure of staff lists. Bean said that Houghton will receive a custodial sentence when he is sentenced on those charges at the Central Criminal Court on 3 September.

The ex-MI6 man was also initially charged with theft under the Theft Act 1968, but he pleaded not guilty to this. ZDNet UK understands that the prosecution will offer no evidence of theft and is likely to accept Houghton's plea on the theft count in September.

The Crown Prosecution Service would like a psychiatric report to be compiled on Houghton, ZDNet UK understands.

No technical details were given at the hearing as to how Houghton had gained access to the sensitive files, which he downloaded between 1 September, 2007, and 31 May, 2009. The documents contained details of techniques for intelligence collection, and included two staff lists, according to copies of court documents seen by ZDNet UK.

Houghton was arrested at a hotel in London by Scotland Yard officers acting in conjunction with the intelligence services in March, while he was trying to sell the information.

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