Hoxton man guilty of leaking MI6 documents

Photo: Flickr; Antmoose Wikimedia; Antony M

A former MI6 worker has been given a 12-month jail sentence for trying to sell top secret material for £2m.

Daniel Houghton, 25, from Hoxton pleaded guilty to two offences under the Official Secrets Act and selling files to Dutch agents.

However, he will be freed today because he has already spent 184 days in custody.

Houghton, who was arrested in March, worked for the Secret Intelligence Service between 2007 and 2009.

He denied a charge of stealing materials, a plea which was accepted by the prosecution at the Royal Courts of Justice.

Houghton, who worked as a £23,000-a-year software engineer, had tried to sell copies of electronic files containing details of information-gathering software and staff lists to the agents in The Netherlands. The Dutch authorities then tipped off the security services.

The case does raise questions about whether security and vetting procedures at MI6 are tight enough because the files were handed over to a friendly power.

Judge Mr Justice Bean said: “If the material had found its way into the hands of a hostile power it would have done enormous damage and put lives at risk.”

Agents from The Netherlands are understood to have bugged and filmed Houghton as he displayed the files and offered to provide them with lists of MI5 agents he had worked with.

The price was negotiated down to £900,000 and immediately after Houghton handed over the files on 1 March he was arrested while carrying a suitcase containing the cash.

When police searched his premises, a memory stick was found containing 7,000 files and top secret documents were discovered on his hard drive.

Police sources said Houghton appeared to have been motivated by greed.

One senior source said he had been living a “champagne lifestyle on ginger beer wages”.

MI6, who vetted Houghton before employing him, declined to comment on the security breach.

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