Email addresses and photographs of Afghan interpreters copied in to mass email by MoD

Ben Wallace said the data breach was “unacceptable” – EPA

Ben Wallace has ordered an investigation into an “unacceptable breach” involving the email addresses of dozens of Afghan interpreters who worked for British forces.

More than 250 people seeking relocation to the UK were mistakenly copied into an email from the Ministry of Defence asking for an update on their situation.

Some of the email addresses had photographs attached of those in question. Many of those copied in the email are currently in hiding.

Mr Wallace called it an “unacceptable breach”, while the MoD apologised in a statement.

A spokesman said: “We are aware of a data breach of information from the Afghan Relocations Assistance Policy team.

“We apologise to everyone impacted by this breach and are working hard to ensure it does not happen again.”

The spokesman added that the MoD “takes its information and data handling responsibilities very seriously”.

Johnny Mercer, the former veterans minister, tweeted that “the truth on how we have treated our Afghan interpreters will out”, as he accused the MoD and Home Office of a “criminally negligent performance”.

He added that the “vast majority” of interpreters “have been left behind, probably moving house again tonight”.

In response to the Afghan interpreter data breach, John Healey, Labour’s Shadow Defence Secretary, said: “We told these Afghans interpreters we would keep them safe, instead this breach has needlessly put lives at risk.

“The priority now is to urgently step up efforts to get these Afghans safely to the UK.

“This is the second major data breach from the MoD this year, after sensitive documents were discovered at a bus stop in Kent in June. Clearly, the Defence Secretary needs to get his house in order.”

There may still be thousands of Afghans waiting for the Government to process their application for asylum – PA

It comes as Labour highlighted new figures that revealed just 850 applications to the government's ARAP scheme have been accepted since the beginning of April, with 6,800 still outstanding.

This is despite Boris Johnson having claimed earlier this month that just 311 of those Afghans who supported UK forces were left in the country.

Labour’s Shadow Armed Forces Minister Stephen Morgan called on Mr Wallace to set out a “credible” plan to help those left behind.

Mr Morgan said: “While Ministers claim the ARAP scheme is still open, this will be cold comfort to those still on the ground, now living in fear under Taliban rule.

“This crisis was a fundamental test of the government and its leadership. Once again, Conservative Ministers were found to be out of touch and on the beach.”

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