TEN years ago this week, there was shock after it emerged computer discs containing the personal details of 25 million people disappeared somewhere between the North-East and London.

Police were called in to investigate the Government’s child benefit centre in Washington following the loss.

About a dozen uniformed officers, wearing protective blue gloves, could be seen on the top floor of the three-storey office complex searching desks and cabinets and looking through folders and files.

Loading article content

MPs gasped as Chancellor Alistair Darling revealed the scale of the loss in an emergency statement to the Commons.

Mr Darling told MPs: "The missing information contains details of all child benefit recipients – records for 25 million individuals and 7.25 million families.

"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.

"That means the personal details of nearly every family in the country with a child under 16 have gone missing."

The CDs were never found despite an exhaustive search led by Scotland Yard, and the loss was blamed on an error by a junior official.

Also ten years ago this week, The Northern Echo revealed plans to make Darlington a university town by building a University of Teesside campus next to Darlington College, while a chance find by metal detectorists in a field at Aldborough, three miles from Boroughbridge, revealed a Roman skeleton dating back nearly 2,000 years buried in a lead coffin.

The Stereophonics played the Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle. Northern Echo reviewer Andy Walker's verdict was: "They may not be as young as they once were, but they proved they can still rock."

On the sporting front, things turned sour for Steve McClaren after he was sacked as England coach when the squad failed to qualify for Euro 2008.

The former Boro boss returned to his home in Yarm, and confessed he had suffered "one of the saddest days of my career".

At the time McClaren's 18-game tenure was the shortest of any England coach.

FA chief executive Brian Barwick apologised to fans as he launched a "root and branch" review of the national side.

Next week: How Darlington cancer patient Dave Hill left a lasting legacy for other sufferers.