Associated Newspapers, the publisher of the Daily Mail, has admitted that a laptop holding the personal details of thousands of staff and suppliers has been stolen.

Simon Dyson, Associated Newspapers' finance director, and Martyn Hindley, his counterpart at sister company Northcliffe, have written to those affected by the lost laptop, claiming it's likely the thief has erased their details.

The laptop contained thousands of names, addresses, bank-account numbers and sort codes, but the machine was password-protected, according to the Guardian.

"The likelihood is that this theft was carried out in an opportunistic manner by a thief who won't realise that there's any personal data on the laptop and who may just erase what is on the hard disk in order to disguise the fact that the laptop is stolen," said the letter.

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