UK says tax authority mislaid details of 25 mln people

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LONDON, Nov 21 (Reuters) Personal details of 25 million people have been mislaid by Britain's tax authority, finance minister Alistair Darling said -- a new blow to his Labour government which is still reeling from a banking crisis.

Paul Gray, head of Britain's Revenue and Customs, has already resigned over what Darling described as a ''serious breach'' of procedure at the tax authority.

Darling told parliament that two discs containing information on 25 million people from 7.5 million families had disappared and a police investigation was underway, though there was no sign of fraud at present.

''The missing information contains details of all child benefit recipients: records for 25 million individuals and 7.25 million families,'' Darling said yesterday.

''These records include the recipient and their children's names, addresses and dates of birth, it includes Child Benefit numbers, National Insurance Numbers, and, where relevant, bank or building society account details.'' Darling was already under fire for his handling of the crisis at lender Northern Rock, which suffered Britain's first bank run in more than a century in September, and has been supported by billions of pounds of taxpayers' money.

Reuters RSA DB0922

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