Former Cabinet member Nick Brown has become the latest senior politician to claim that his telephone had been tapped.
Unlike other complaints involving illegal eavesdropping on mobile phone voicemail messages, Labour’s former chief whip said that it appeared his landline was bugged with a recording device.
And he said police had also warned on a separate occasion that his mobile phone might have been illegally accessed.
Mr Brown’s comments came as Scotland Yard revived its inquiry into allegations of phone-hacking by journalists at the News of the World, with Metropolitan Police Acting Commissioner Tim Godwin promising to leave “no stone unturned”.
Mr Brown’s former Cabinet colleague Tessa Jowell on Thursday called in police after being warned by her phone provider of a failed attempt to access her voicemail as recently as last week.
Speaking to Newcastle’s Journal newspaper, Mr Brown revealed he became suspicious that his phone had been bugged following a conversation with an “important” person several years ago.
“I picked up a landline telephone very quickly … to make another call straight away,” said the Newcastle East MP. “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.”
Mr Brown said that on another occasion, he was contacted by a police force in the West Country, who told him they were pursuing a phone-tapping prosecution and he was one of those who may have been targeted. Although the case reached court, the judge’s rulings meant the prosecution did not go ahead, and Mr Brown was not told full details of the allegations.
“Given that it was near Highgrove, 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.”