Experts tell England to carry out bug sweeps
Hotel where secret tape recorded 'surprised' by the breakdown in security
Wednesday 10 March 2010
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 a 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 said: "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. They also bring their own security team. It would surprise me if they had been bugged here."
Sir Alex Ferguson has admitted news the England team has been bugged was a concern. Ferguson and Manchester United were at the centre of a similar controversy in 2005 when listening devices were found in the home dressing room at Old Trafford after a key encounter with Chelsea.
"It happened to us once before," he said. "I would be concerned about it. You have to be. Preparation involves discretion and secrecy. I haven't revealed one bit of my tactics ahead of the match tomorrow. I haven't been asked. And do you know why? Because I wouldn't tell anyone.
"Why should I tell anyone? Capello may have been discussing some important issues about his team. All of a sudden someone else has got it. It is a concern."
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