MoD police take firm's documents

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MINISTRY of Defence police raided three ICL computer company establishments on Thursday morning and took away a number of documents relating to two installation service contracts carried out by an ICL subsidiary, writes John Willcock.

ICL, the UK-based company in which Fujitsu of Japan has a majority stake, said that it was unaware of the reason for the raid, and that none of its employees had been questioned. An ICL spokesman said that it was unable to say which MoD bases were involved because of the Official Secrets Act.

Richard Livesey Howarth, an executive director of ICL, said yesterday: 'We are taking the matter extremely seriously and are co-operating fully with the MoD.'

A spokesman for the MoD said: 'We are conducting an inquiry concerning ICL.' He said that it was unable to comment any further on the nature of the investigation. ICL said that the documents removed related to 'two small installation service contracts with the MoD, which totalled pounds 1m in value, carried out by an ICL subsidiary'.

Sources close to the company were keen to play down the significance of the contracts, suggesting that they related to 'low-tech, wiring-type work', and that the investigation was related to commercial matters rather than national security.

ICL, once the great hope of the British mainframe computer industry, hit the headlines in 1990 when it agreed to sell 80 per cent of itself to Fujitsu, the Japanese conglomerate. However, the Japanese are to reduce their holding to about 50 per cent by 1995.