England warned over future bugs

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The Independent Football

England officials have been warned to sweep team venues for listening devices on a regular basis to avoid being bugged.

It is understood the Football Association are reviewing security procedures after an apparent secret recording of conversations between England players and coaches before the Egypt friendly came to light.

Manchester United employ security personnel to conduct regular sweeps of their dressing rooms after they were bugged four years ago, and England have been told by experts to adopt similar measures.

The FA have yet to make a complaint to the police about the bugging, reportedly at The Grove hotel in Hertfordshire, because they are still waiting to have access to the recording.

They have, however, taken legal steps to ensure the conversations remain under wraps.

SIASS, a private intelligence agency with offices in London, Newcastle and Chester who work for sports teams, companies and foreign governments, said the FA need to organise regular sweeps for bugs.

A SIASS spokesman told Press Association Sport: "If they don't already do so, then the people that run the security for England need to sweep for bugs.

"They will have a risk-management strategy in place but they need really high-tech surveillance counter-measures.

"Any listening device can be picked up by a properly trained and experienced operator. We have worked for sports teams before and their sensitive information can be valuable both to opponents and to a scurrilous individual wanting to sell a scoop to the newspapers.

"There are a wide range of listening devices from long-range microphones to frequency-hopping transmission systems to digital devices - but these can all be detected."

Discussions involving England manager Fabio Capello and the squad are understood to have been secretly taped ahead of last Wednesday's match.

Although they have not officially commented, the FA's lawyers have contacted media organisations warning that publication of the contents of the recording would be illegal and a breach of the Data Protection Act and Press Complaints Commission rules.

The secret recording is yet another unwelcome issue for Capello to be faced with in the build-up to the World Cup after the England coach was forced to replace John Terry as captain following revelations about the Chelsea defender's private life.

A spokesman for The Grove hotel expressed surprise, saying: "We have been hosting England for three or four years and provide a very high level of security for them. They also bring their own security team. It would surprise me if they had been bugged here."