For a foreign power looking to get unfettered access to the heart of the British Government it would be the purrfect cover. But could George Osborne’s cat really have a secret pedigree as a Chinese agent?
It all started with Freya’s mysterious and sudden re-appearance in Downing Street last year. The Chancellor had bought the tabby as a present for his two children in 2009 when the Osbornes were living in Notting Hill, west London. But within a few months she went missing. Role on three years and the family had moved to Downing Street, when Mr Osborne’s wife, Frances, got a surprise call telling her that Freya had been found.
She had apparently been living as a stray in a garden a few streets away and was being “looked after” by a “neighbour”. It was only after a visit to a vet revealed a microchip beneath her skin bearing Ms Osborne’s phone number that her owners were identified.
She was re-united with the Osbornes but since her arrival in Downing Street her behaviour has aroused suspicion that she might have another kind of chip implanted in her.
Unlike David Cameron’s cat Larry who rarely moves from his favoured spot under a Downing Street hot air vent, Freya is quite a piece of work.
Over the past few months she has been found in the most secure area of the Foreign Office, inside the room in No 10 where the Cabinet meets and trying to seek entry into the Treasury. She was even caught by Mr Osborne inside his red box.
And like any good agent she also likes to spend time in the bar.
On many an evening she can be found in Westminster’s favoured political watering hole, the Red Lion – despite having to cross four lanes of traffic to get there. Apparently at the end of the evening the barmaids regularly have to carry her back home.
She has even made it as far as Trafalgar Square – once being caught back stage at the Trafalgar Studio Theatre nearly half a kilometre away. On one occasion she was spotted in the command centre of a secret “war gaming” exercise involving the Navy.
But Freya’s antics have now led some Downing Street insiders to joke that perhaps Freya is the ultimate listening device. “I said to George ‘are you sure she’s not a spy’,” one told The Independent. “George just laughed.”
A Treasury source also denied that Freya was a Chinese spy – but suggested she could be involved in a little internal espionage. “She’s a Treasury cat. It’s her job to get everywhere.”