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Police slap cuffs on Punk SMSer

Clash lyrics intercepted, collar felt

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A tech worker was arrested yesterday after a text message he sent was intercepted and traced back to his phone.

In a scene reminiscent of Neo's first escape from Agent Smith, Special Branch officers slapped the cuffs on Mike Devine at his office in Bristol yesterday, and took him away for questioning.

Devine, who plays in a Clash tribute band in his spare time, had sent a message containing lyrics from The Clash's Tommy Gun to his lead singer who had forgotten the words to the song.

According to The Sun, the message read:

"How about this for Tommy Gun? OK - SO LET'S AGREE ABOUT THE PRICE AND MAKE IT ONE JET AIRLINER AND TEN PRISONERS"

The arrest has prompted speculation about how the message was intercepted. Police maintain that Devine's message went astray. They say he actually sent it to a woman in Bristol by mistake and it was she who alerted police to the content.

However, The Sun also quotes Chris Dobson, a terrorism expert, as saying that the interception clearly shows that GCHQ is monitoring all vocal and textual mobile phone traffic.

Devine himself is slightly bemused by the incident. He said: "It hadn't even occurred to me that it might look a bit dodgy. It was quite nerve wracking for Special Branch to come looking for you at work. I was thinking, Oh God, what have I done?"

The police questioned Devine about his phone, and asked if he had used it to send texts at the end of April. They showed him a print out of the text and asked him to confirm that he had sent it. "I said, 'That's the lyrics from Tommy Gun. I'm in a tribute band'," Devine said.

Fortunately, once he explained that the message was not part of a terrorist plot, the police accepted his explanation and let him go, but not before suggesting to Devine that he be careful about where he sent such messages in future. ®

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