Former Labour Staffer at Centre of Cabinet Office Data Breach Terrorism Probe

An extraordinary story of attempted espionage, counter-terrorism police and a civil servant’s subsequent sacking has played out in a Cabinet Office employment tribunal. The man at the centre of the daring document download escapade is former Labour staffer, Kamran Khan, who joined the Cabinet Office in 2019, only to get sacked shortly after being caught attempting to download a staff organisation chart – containing names and salary details – onto a USB stick to take home. The story has only emerged because Khan tried suing the Cabinet Office for racism, losing the case last week…

After being caught with the USB stick, it was then discovered Khan had gained employment at the heart of government by getting an employee at the Marxist political website “Grynspan” to provide a reference and allow him to pass initial counter-terrorism vetting. It was only after his hiring, during a disciplinary meeting, Khan admitted for the first time he owned Grynspan. During the meeting Khan refused to say the registered name of his company, only afterwards identifying it as “Workers’ Alliance”…

The tribunal confirmed the self-proclaimed former Labour manifesto writer:

attached a USB to his laptop with the intention of taking a headcount document (or, at least, part of it) home. Nor is it in dispute that his document was, in its complete form, a sensitive confidential document containing personal and financial data of the [Cabinet Office’s] employees.”

The tribunal heard that the employee’s behaviour during his first two days at work “rang multiple alarm bells”, and a meeting was held three days after his start date in September to discuss the “red flags”, which by this time included:

  • Khan’s attitude to a manager’s revelation of cancer (Khan claimed it was inappropriate to burden junior staff members with this information)
  • His prior political activities, which Khan said involved “drafting manifestos/papers for a Labour MP” and said he wished he could continue doing in the role
  • The number of civil service jobs he had applied for (“20-30 roles”), which one staff member involved in the drama was told “in conjunction with other factors, might indicate insider threat”

Following the meeting, it was decided the Cabinet Office should start investigating Mr Khan’s job application and references. The department was already considering suspension because of a report he had “inserted a USB stick into his computer”, against their IT policy. The judge swiftly determined the department had not contravened the Equalities Act in sacking Khan. The remaining conclusion is the government desperately needs to be more sceptical of applicants who own overtly Marxist political blogs…

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mdi-account-multiple-outline Kamran Khan
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