Corporate spying to be outlawed

CORPORATE spying is to be outlawed as part of the Government's legislation on invasion of privacy by the press, Kenneth Clarke, the Home Secretary, said yesterday.

The anti-spying laws, to be included in a comprehensive Criminal Justice Bill in the next session of Parliament in the autumn, may have prevented some of the 'dirty tricks' alleged to have been used by British Airways against Virgin Atlantic.

Mr Clarke said on the BBC's Breakfast with Frost yesterday: 'I think it should be clearly a criminal offence to tap somebody else's telephone. I think there should be legal constraints on using cameras. I think there should be legal constraints on getting into bank accounts and protected data.

'Some of these big takeover battles and dirty tricks in the City involve people being hired to do these kind of things.'

Mr Clarke hoped to implement these recommendations from the Calcutt report on the press in a comprehensive Bill. There is expected to be widespread support for the new curbs on the press, following the disclosures about the royal family.

But the Government is opposed to the proposal made by the Commons Select Committee on National Heritage for a statutory body to police the press.