April 8, 2009— -- An embarrassing blunder by a top British counter-terrorism official, who was photographed this morning carrying a top secret document in plain view, caused an uproar in England today as authorities rushed to round up suspects in a now compromised major terrorism investigation.
The BBC and other British news outlets published photographs of Assistant Commissioner Bob Quick as he was heading to a meeting at 10 Downing Street, in which he can be seen carrying a document labeled "Secret" and which contained details about an upcoming terrorist operation.
Twelve men were arrested in raids involving several hundred officers, according to the Greater Manchester Police, who were also conducting searches at eight locations.
"Although the operation is ongoing, this phase is still in its very early stages, so the information we can release about it is limited," said Detective Chief Superintendent Tony Porter, head of the North West CTU.
At least ten suspects were later hastily rounded up and arrested in raids across Northwest England, according to the BBC.
According to the British newspaper "The Telegraph" the exposed "briefing note" contained details of the locations and manner of the intended arrests, names of senior officers in charge of the operation and the "media strategy" once the suspects were rounded up.
British defense press officials sent an urgent note to all major British media alerting them " a media agency may be offering a photograph which contains highly sensitive information about a current counter-terrorist operation" and urging them not to publish details of the operation without seeking "advice", but the damage was done.
A Scotland Yard spokesman later told reporters the top counter terrorism official had apologized to his colleagues.
"Assistant Commissioner Quick accepts he made a mistake on leaving a sensitive document in open view and deeply regrets it."