Minister: iPhones aren't safe where I live
He may be the Security Minister, but Lord West of Spithead does not seem to feel completely safe in his home neighbourhood in east London.
Lord West admitted he preferred not to carry a state-of-the-art iPhone or Blackberry because of the fear of crime – either from street robbers or computer hackers.
He told journalists that one reason he carried a "stone age" mobile, rather than a sophisticated multi-media device, was the risk of losing sensitive or confidential information.
"You have opened yourself up to all these internet issues. Suddenly people can get access to all sorts of data." Holding up his phone, he added: "It's also to stop being mugged. I live in Hackney. If they see that, they are more likely to feel sorry for me and give me a fiver."
Lord West, the former First Sea Lord, said that the relatively small number of Blackberries used in Whitehall reflected problems in making them secure if they were lost or stolen.
It was easier for "these nasty bastards who will try to steal things" to obtain information from mobiles with internet links than from paper documents, he said.
"In the old days, when people used quill pens, you had to knock the chap on the head and grab the letter from him. They make the individual more vulnerable if he's using them."
Lord West said: "There are a limited number of government Blackberries that are more restricted and are accredited by [GCHQ at] Cheltenham. There's a dreadful tension between the easy flow of information and security."
His comments echo the admission by Jacqui Smith, when she was Home Secretary, that she would not feel safe walking in areas like Hackney, or even more affluent districts, after dark.
She attempted to soothe the row by claiming she had stopped for a kebab one evening in Peckham, south-east London. But it later emerged she had been accompanied by a bodyguard when she picked up her takeaway.
Lord West's fondness for blunt language has landed him in hot water before. In a radio interview last year he said he was not "totally convinced" by Government plans to lock up terrorist suspects for up to 42 days without charge. He retracted his comments hours later after a meeting with Gordon Brown.
He later explained: "Being a simple sailor, not a politician, maybe I didn't choose my words well."
- 1 Andreas Lubitz: Who is Germanwings co-pilot who 'locked out captain and crashed flight 9525'?
- 2 JK Rowling responds to fan tweeting she 'can't see' Dumbledore being gay
- 3 Germanwings crash: Descent may have been 'deliberate, suicidal choice' by pilot, claims experts
- 4 Germanwings plane crash live: Andreas Guenter Lubitz intentionally crashed flight 9525 into the Alps in act of mass murder and suicide – latest
- 5 Video shows what happens when lava is poured onto ice
Nigel Farage brands LGBT activists 'filth' and 'scum' and accuses them of scaring away his children after they invade his local pub
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
JK Rowling responds to fan tweeting she 'can't see' Dumbledore being gay
Russia threatens Denmark with nuclear weapons if it tries to join Nato defence shield
Jeremy Clarkson sacked live: Alan Yentob 'wouldn't rule out' ex Top Gear host's BBC return
Vote Ukip, says far-right group Britain First
£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity to...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Trainee Managers are required to join the UK's...
£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will maximise the effective...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + uncapped commission : SThree: Hello! I know most ...