TORY LEADERSHIP ELECTION: Hopefuls call up BT's 'emergency' service

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The Independent Online
British Telecom admitted last night that it had classified John Redwood's leadership attempt as an emergency disaster area. The unique classification normally reserved for pestilence, plague, famine and flood allowed it to immediately install banks of telephones at mission control Redwood.

Six days is the normal waiting time and BT's guidelines clearly state that it should not show any "undue preference" to any person with respect to the provision of service.

However, sources close to the company say there is a special number that politicians can call to get swift service for campaign headquarters during general and by-elections.

The dozen lines installed at Mr Redwood's headquarters at high speed are thought to be a result of the service.

Westminster twitchiness has provided a valuable new way of monitoring Conservative leadership election hopefuls.

Cable television crews now keep a close eye on grey BT vans in the Westminster area.

BT refused to divulge which leadership candidates were having extra telephone lines installed.

All the company would confirm was that: "John Redwood is probably not the only person near Westminster getting extra lines installed at the moment."