A laptop stolen in Birmingham late on the 9th of January 2008 is said to contain the personal data of 600,000 people who have joined or expressed an interest in joining the Royal Navy, the Marines and the Air Force.
The Ministry of Defence only made the announcement last weekend to give sufficient time to the police to complete its investigations.
The laptop - a black Compaq Evo N600c - contained unencrypted data which included passport details, National Insurance numbers, drivers' licence details, family details, doctors' addresses and NHS numbers.
The blunder is the latest in a series that has seen various departments within the British Government lose tens of millions of its citizens’ records through lost CDROMs, hard disk drives and laptops.
According to The Guardian, the HRMC alone has been responsible for more than 2000 data protection breaches.
It has also reignited the debate surrounding the impending launch of the National ID cards which, if everything goes awry, could be the biggest cock-up of them all.
The data faux pas came on the same day when a motorist reported that he had found hundreds of documents containing sensitive and private individual details dumped on a roundabout.