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Security services tapped Ian Paisley’s phone when he was an MP, claims Prescott

The security services tapped the phone of the late Ian Paisley while he was an MP, Lord Prescott has claimed.

The firebrand leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) had his calls tapped despite a long-standing convention that MPs should not have their communications monitored, the former deputy prime minister said. Lord Prescott said then prime minister Tony Blair told him in 2005 that security services had eavesdropped on an MP. He said that after pressing Mr Blair for a name, the then premier told him it was the DUP leader, who later became Northern Ireland’s first minister and a peer before his death in 2014.

Writing in his Sunday Mirror column, Lord Prescott said the surveillance watchdog had wanted to name Mr Paisley but Parliament was not informed.

Lord Prescott said: ” Downing Street had been told by the Interception of Communications Commissioner, who wanted to name Paisley.

“Tony asked me to discuss the Wilson Doctrine with the Speaker of the House of Commons .

I never told him that an MP had been tapped or that it was Paisley.

“Parliament was not informed and Paisley went on to become First Minister of Northern Ireland.

“I can only think that as the peace process was still a concern, mentioning the fact a leading loyalist politician had been tapped by Britain’s security services in the past would not have helped.”

The newspaper said Lord Prescott has decided to break his silence over fears electronic snooping to catch terrorists will lead to an erosion of privacy. The convention that MPs’ communications should not be intercepted by police or security services is known as the Wilson doctrine after former prime minister Harold Wilson, who announced the policy in 1966. In March 2006, Mr Blair assured Parliament the Wilson doctrine would be maintained despite advice to scrap the policy.

The Sunday Mirror said Lord Prescott does not know when Mr Paisley’s phone was tapped or whether MI5, MI6, police or the Army were responsible. He approached then Commons speaker Michael Martin to discuss how the Wilson doctrine was applied but did not mention it was prompted by what he had learned about Mr Paisley. Lord Prescott was concerned a constituent’s private matters could be overheard if spies were listening to MPs’ calls.

In his column, Lord Prescott said he was concerned about the state’s powers of surveillance under Theresa May.

“The challenge as a minister is to balance national security against the freedoms we enjoy,” he said.

“But this government seems determined to ensure Big Brother is not only watching you, he’s monitoring your calls, emails and texts.”

Ex-soldier stole 300 from safe at security office of New Cross Hospital

A former soldier who completed two tours of Iraq has been ordered to pay more than 700 after he admitted stealing 300 from New Cross Hospital.

Father-of-three Lee Rowlands, aged 30, of Evans Street, Whitmore Reans, pleaded guilty at Walsall Magistrates’ court on Thursday after being charged with theft by an employee. The court heard how Rowlands, who previously spent six years in the army and completed two tours of Iraq, stole 300 from an unsecured safe at the car parking security office of New Cross Hospital. He was working as a security supervisor at the time. He was ordered by magistrate Mrs Jayne Heathcote to pay a fine of 250, down from 375 for his early guilty plea, costs of 185, compensation to the NHS of 300 and a victim surcharge of 30, totalling 765. The theft took place between February 1 and March 5 this year when Rowlands was working in the security office. The unsecured safe contained money collected from parking passes given out to those working at the hospital. The court heard how CCTV installed in the security office was angled to cover the safe, but would only reveal the person s back. When Mr Rowlands colleagues realised money had not been accounted for, they installed an additional camera when he was on annual leave. This camera showed Mr Rowlands take 40 from the safe .

He was arrested and interviewed at Wolverhampton Central Police Station on March 13 where he admitted taking the money and he had stolen 300 in total from February. Ms Rachel Smith, prosecuting, said: It was confirmed there was 40 in the safe before Rowlands was seen on camera removing something from the safe . The 40 was not there when it was checked after his visit. Defending Rowlands, Mr Nayan Patel said: He admits he is suffering from post-traumatic-stress-disorder following his two tours of Iraq. Rowlands is currently suspended from work, where the court heard, he continues to earn 1,000 a month, though his contract is expected to be terminated following his appearance in court.

Strabane security alert ends after ‘bid to kill police officers with roadside bomb with command wire’

A security alert in Strabane has ended after a “roadside bomb with a command wire” exploded at the side of the road which was “designed to kill ” officers.

The alert at on the Liskey Road and Townsend Street was sparked on Tuesday and ended on Friday afternoon. Three officers escaped injury after the device exploded while they were on patrol. Police said the device was a “roadside bomb with a command wire attached”. Chief Inspector Ivor Morton said: “This was a complex security operation involving what can only be described as a roadside bomb with a command wire attached. “This device was designed to kill or seriously injure officers serving the local community in Strabane, but it was also left in a built up area where it could quite easily have killed or maimed members of the public – showing a callous disregard for the safety of the local community.

It is extremely fortunate that we are not talking about the deaths of police officers or members of the public today.

The blame for this incident lies squarely on the reckless individuals who placed this device . The overwhelming majority of people in the community do not want this type of activity and we as a police service will continue to work to bring those responsible before the courts.” A 20-year-old man has been arrested in Newtownstewart in connection with the attack .

He was taken to Musgrave Serious Crime Suite in Belfast on Friday morning for questioning. Mr Morton thanked the public for their patience. He said: I would like to thank the local community for their patience and understanding during the course of this prolonged policing operation. “Our primary aim throughout has been community safety and we are committed to doing this by working with the community . The security operation caused significant disruption to the people of the area, but was necessary to allow for a careful examination of the scene in order to keep people safe.

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