Alan Wilkinson, chairman of the UK Paging Operators' Association, admitted that it discussed in January the possibility that messages to the country's 800,000 pagers could be intercepted - but did not take any extra security measures such as encrypting messages to help stop hackers. The Labour Party did not deny yesterday that messages had been sent to aides with suggestions like "Please do something about the hair". These were monitored by an unknown person using a radio scanner, tuned to a frequency used for pager messages.
Pager companies said that they had never made any guarantees about security. "We wouldn't advise sending explicit messages which contain sensitive information," said a spokeswoman for Vodapage.BT insisted that customers would be aware that the system was not completely secure.