Car thieves stop Smith in his tracks

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The Independent Online
JOHN SMITH became a victim of rising crime last night when his official car was stolen, writes Colin Brown.

The Labour leader's red Rover Sterling saloon was parked outside offices at Grays Inn Road when the driver saw it being driven away. Mr Smith was at Westminster when the theft took place, leaving his chauffeur as red-faced as the paintwork of the luxury saloon.

Unlike most victims of car crime - one of John Major's targets for the Government's crackdown on crime - Mr Smith will not be losing his no-claims bonus. The car was one of the perks of the job as Leader of Her Majesty's Opposition.

A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police refused to speculate on whether the J-registered Rover had been taken by joyriders or car thieves seeking an quick return on Labour's transport.

It is understood that there were no sensitive documents in the car when it was taken. Mr Smith will be seeking a replacement from the government car pool.