The Ministry of Defence recovered a stolen laptop containing top-secret details of a £250bn Anglo-US fighter plane project, a spokeswoman said Monday.
The data on the laptop, reportedly highly sensitive to British national security, was neither encrypted nor password-protected, according to press reports.
The laptop was taken from a intelligence officer at a London rail station two weeks ago but was returned to the Ministry of Defence Monday after being handed in to the offices of The Mirror newspaper.
The Mirror reports that the computer contained a large number of files relating to the building of the supersonic Anglo-US Strike fighter aircraft. It says that most of these files were not protected in any way.
A Ministry of Defence spokeswoman says that government does not believe that the laptop was stolen by anyone who might have used the information to threaten national security but says: "We will investigate it if necessary."
The spokeswoman cannot confirm whether the data was stored without protection but indicates that the incident could prompt a departmental rethink in security procedures. "Of course the security issue is an ongoing process especially in today's modern technological age, whether this will have an impact on that has not yet been decided," she says.