Silence on Mandelson's phonetap

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The Independent Online
MI5 and Downing Street yesterday refused to confirm or deny claims that Peter Mandelson's phone was tapped during the Seventies because of unfounded fears that he might be a Soviet agent, writes Steve Boggan.

According to David Shayler, a former MI5 officer, Mr Mandelson, now minister without portfolio, was bugged for three years because of his involvement in left-wing student politics. Giving details of Mr Mandelson's MI5 file, Mr Shayler told the Mail on Sunday that Mr Mandelson caught the attention of F2, the counter-subversion section of MI5, after organising a delegation to the World Democratic Youth Festival in Chile in the mid-Seventies.

Mr Shayler, who left his post five months ago after six years as an MI5 officer, said that Mr Mandelson's file was still active and being reviewed in 1992. Others who had MI5 files were Harriet Harman, the Secretary of State for Social Security, and Jack Straw, the Home Secretary.

The Home Office and Downing Street refused to elaborate on Mr Shayler's claims. Mr Mandelson declined to comment.