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Four people have been arrested after the BBC bought a driving licence and utility bills in the name of Home Secretary Jacqui Smith.

The Beeb has spent the last three months investigating one of the many websites which sell identity documents. It bought a driving licence, a gas bill and a bank statement in Jacqui Smith's name.

Identity experts said the quality of the documents was disturbing and they were more than good enough to commit further ID theft.

The Government, rather missing the point, said the ease with which the documents were obtained showed why we need a national ID card because: "ID cards will tie your fingerprints to your biographical details, cracking down on fraud, and creating a single, secure proof of identity."

A Home Office spokeswoman said extra police would help: "To support enforcement of the law we have committed £29m to tackling fraud, including establishing the City of London Police as the national lead on fraud. In the first six months of operation, forces across the country have used new laws to prosecute more than 500 identity crimes."

Guy Herbert, from campaigners No2ID, said the story in fact showed the foolishness of putting all our identifying facts in one database.

Herbert said: "The Government has been warned time and again by experts that its megalomaniac desire to stack every personal fact about everyone in Britain onto a Home Office hard disc is madness. It carries on with its eyes shut and its ears stopped.

"Who but a minister could fail to grasp that, far from preventing fraud, nationalising identity will make the consequences of 'identity theft' far worse."

The full rollout of the ID card scheme has been delayed until 2012. The Tory party has promised to cancel the project if it is elected, although they would likely have to compensate the technology providers in order to terminate the contracts. ®

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