The Royal Navy was playing down the importance of the loss of a laptop computer which contained the private details of millions of people.
"The machine held details of people who intended to join the Navy" a Ministry of Defence spokesperson said. "this means that there were lots of people on there who did not intend to join us and therefore, frankly, are not our problem."
The spokesperson was reminded of the demands of the Data Protection Act and of the ramifications of the HMRC data loss scandal. He responded: "People who apply to the armed forces know that they are signing up to risks; losing personal data just happens to be one of them."