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Saturday, January 29, 2011

Gay former cabinet minister Nick Brown reveals his phone was tapped

Gay Labour MP, Nick Brown, who served as chief whip during Gordon Brown’s tenure as prime minister and during Tony Blair’s first administration has said that he believes his phone line was bugged by a tabloid newspaper.
Unlike other high profile figures, Mr Brown believes that attempts to intercept his telephone calls went beyond hacking into his voice-mail. He said that he was warned by the police several years ago that his mobile phone might have been illegally accessed.
Mr Brown, who is MP for Newcastle East told his local Journal newspaper that his suspicions were first aroused after taking a phone call from an “important” person.
“I picked up a landline telephone very quickly … to make another call straight away,” he said.
“And the line clicked and then I heard my last conversation played back to me, which was quite eerie. I got on to British Telecom straight away … They said the line showed every signs of having been intercepted manually, not through scanners. It was an amateurish attempt involving the physical intervention of the line with a recording device.”
On another occasion, Mr Brown was contacted by the police who were investigating a phone-tapping incident. The case never reached the courts and Mr Brown was not told the full details.
“Given that it was near Highgrove [the country residence of the Prince of Wales], my assumption was that this might involve the Royal Family. But I was never explicitly told that,” he said. Asked if he had spoken again to police, he said: “It seems to me once the court says the court cannot proceed, I am not quite sure what there is left to do.”
Mr Brown was forced to come out by the News of the World, the newpaper at the heart of the phone hacking scandal. The disclosure was made after a former partner attempted to sell to the newspaper the details of their relationship. Mr Brown was also forced to deny he had ever paid for sex. At the time he was agriculture minister and told a group of farmers, “It’s a lovely day. The sun is out – and so am I.”
Fellow gay MPs Chris Bryant and Simon Hughes were the victims of phone hacking attempts by tabloid newspapers as was Brian Paddick, formerly the most senior openly gay policeman in Britain.


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