Major denies Clark's phone was tapped

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THE Prime Minister has gone out of his way to repudiate an allegation made by Alan Clark, a former ministerial colleague, that his telephone had been tapped by the security service, writes Anthony Bevins.

The former defence minister reveals in the Alan Clark Diaries, to be published next month, that at one point in his ministerial career he was summoned to see Sir Robert Armstrong, Secretary of the Cabinet, who showed him allegations about his private life that could only have come from telephone interceptions.

Andrew Mackinlay, Labour MP for Thurrock, asked John Major if Mr Clark's telephone had been tapped. Mr Major could have used a number of devices to avoid a direct answer to the written parliamentary question, but he chose instead to take it head-on - with a point-blank denial. 'The policy on the interception of the telephones of Members of Parliament remains as stated in 1966 by the then Prime Minister, Lord Wilson of Rievaulx, and as applied by successive governments since.'

Harold Wilson said in 1966 he had given instructions that there was to be no tapping of MPs' telephones.