13 June 2000. Thanks to WK.

The Mirror (UK)

Monday 12th Jun 2000

A SCHOOLGIRL has been bombarded with 250 emails sent to her by mistake by a Navy officer.

They include sensitive documents marked "security restricted".

Claire McDonald, 15, and her mum Sharon, 37, alerted the Navy soon after the messages started arriving in December, but her warning was ignored and she continued to receive about 11 a week.

She said last night: "I think it is appalling that this sort of sensitive defence material should be sent to me."

The emails were intended for Royal Navy Commander Jamie Hay, an information management specialist at the Defence Ministry in London.

They were sent by RN Commander Jim Dale who works at the Pentagon in Washington. They include:

-Cdr Dale complaining about communications problems on Britain's two largest warships, the aircraft carriers Invincible and Illustrious;

-Cdr Dale discussing the merits of rival software systems being tested by the British and US Navies;

-A 64-page document on a defence information management system between the US, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the UK - and how to keep the most sensitive details away from other allies;

-An 82-page document containing the entire information technology strategy for the New Zealand Navy.

One message contained a comic list of phrases to describe senior officers and managers.

"Seagull manager" was defined as "a manager who flies in, makes a lot of noise, craps on everything and leaves!"

Claire, from Exmouth in south Devon, said: "I use my computer for school work and only go on the internet to chat to friends occasionally. I am not any kind of hacker - this stuff just keeps arriving and I want it to stop." Exmouth Community College student Claire, who plans to take a computer course when she leaves school, added: "I sent an email to Cdr Jim Dale but he replied telling me there must be a problem with my internet service provider."

The new computer security blunder follows another recent embarrassing incident when The Mirror recovered and returned a missing laptop, containing secrets, to the Defence Ministry.

Security experts in Britain and America are investigating the latest slip-up. Last night, the Ministry denied that any of the emails sent to Claire were secret.

A spokesman for internet service provider Freeserve said: "Customers register a domain and Claire chose this address and it belongs to her. The Ministry of Defence have quoted the wrong address and it is their mistake."