A civilian police employee today admitted misconduct in a public office by leaking an intelligence report on terrorism to a newspaper.
Thomas Lund-Lack, 59, was working in Scotland Yard’s Special Operations section in the Counter Terrorism Command when he disclosed documents to a journalist.
Today he admitted misconduct in public office when he appeared at the Old Bailey.
The leaked report formed the basis for a Sunday Times article published on April 22.
It warned that al Qaida leaders in Iraq, backed by supporters in Iran, were planning large-scale attacks on Britain and the West, according to the paper.
One operative was said to have warned that he was planning an attack “on a par with Hiroshima and Nagasaki” in an attempt to “shake the Roman throne”, a reference to the West.
Another feared plot could be timed to coincide with the stepping down of Prime Minister Tony Blair, or what al Qaida planners called a “change in the head of the company”, according to the newspaper.
The intelligence report was produced in April and made clear that senior figures from the terror network had been in recent contact with operatives in Britain, the Sunday Times said.
It was said to have been a quarterly review of the international terror threat to Britain, compiled by the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre (JTAC).
The review reportedly said that while the “core” leadership of al Qaida around Osama bin Laden provided the greatest danger, recent intelligence had highlighted the potential threat from other areas, particularly al Qaida in Iraq (AQ-I).
“Recent reporting has described AQ-I’s Kurdish network in Iran planning what we believe may be a large-scale attack against a Western target,” the review said, according to the Sunday Times.
“A member of this network is reportedly involved in an operation which he believes requires AQ Core authorisation. He claims the operation will be on ‘a par with Hiroshima and Nagasaki’ and will ‘shake the Roman throne’.
“We assess that this operation is most likely to be a large-scale, mass casualty attack against the West.”
Lund-Lack, of Bury Street, Stowmarket, Suffolk, was bailed and sentencing was adjourned until the end of July.
But the judge, Mr Justice Gross, told him: “One shouldn’t for a moment assume that I regard this as anything other than a very serious case indeed.”
A second charge of making a damaging disclosure under the Official Secrets Act is expected to lie on file.
Edward Henry, defending, said his client was “bewildered and full of regret”, adding: “To say that he is afflicted with shame is an understatement.”
The court heard that the charge admitted, of “misconduct in a judicial or public office” on April 20, carries a maximum sentence of life.
Prosecutors say Lund-Lack leaked the document because he was “annoyed about the way things were being run and did what he did, he says, in the hope of improving things and bringing out the problems he believed he had seen”, the judge said.
But the court also heard that the long-serving police employee may have been under stress because his daughter was suffering from eating disorders, as well as because of his “direct experience of the service”.
There was “no suggestion of financial gain” from the leak, the court was told.
Mr Henry said Lund-Lack had a record of “exemplary service”, adding: “This is a very, very sad and bizarre isolated incident. It is profoundly strange that he finds himself here.”