Security overhaul at Westminster after Miliband's office 'broken into'


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The Independent Online

Is Ed Miliband's suite of offices in Westminster about to become the British Watergate? Only if a forced door, scattered papers and someone "messing about" with a computer are evidence of a covert burglary at the heart of Britain's parliamentary democracy.

Scotland Yard are remaining neutral on what happened last Friday at 7pm when the door to the Labour's leader's offices in the Norman Shaw South annexe was reported as having been forced open. The Metropolitan Police will say only that their inquiries are ongoing. Westminster sources say that Mr Miliband's team do not know if anything has been taken, so they can't say if anything "sinister" has happened.

With tabloids already placing spymasters and Special Branch at the crime scene, and allegations swirling of a "dirty tricks" campaign ahead of this week's budget, the momentum of "NormanShawSouthGate" is building.

The Palace of Westminster's security officials are more pragmatic. An examination of the parliamentary estate's security is being undertaken. The review will look at security at the main entry points to all the buildings with a potentially expensive upgrade of the entry pass system not being ruled out.

The Speaker, John Bercow, will be embarrassed that a year on from the foam pie attack on Rupert Murdoch, which took place in one of the first floor committee rooms in Portcullis House, security is again in the headlines.

How a potential thief reached the second floor offices of the Opposition – which also includes the private office of the shadow Chancellor, Ed Balls, is being looked at by the Met. An insider said: "These offices won't be found by chance. Someone who didn't know their way around would it find it difficult. This suggests a pass holder."

The Met have been tasked with assessing who was near the Norman Shaw annexes during the time of the alleged break-in. However the lack of CCTV coverage and the fact that pass holders do not need to check out when leaving the parliamentary estate, makes that task almost impossible.