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Brown's aide, Mata Hari and the BlackBerry

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One of Gordon Brown's senior advisers lost his BlackBerry on a recent trip to China after he was picked up by a woman in a disco.

Downing Street is insisting the device was lost rather than stolen, but the incident is bound to raise more questions about the government's inability to look after data.

The man was accompanying Brown and business leaders on the trip in January and was approached by the Chinese woman in a local disco and returned to his hotel room with her. The next morning he realised his BlackBerry was missing.

The aide, whose identity the Sunday Times is sportingly keeping secret was "informally reprimanded", which sounds like a lucky escape to us.

The US department of Homeland Security has warned visitors to China of the risk of cybersnooping, laptop hard drives being copied and spyware being put onto BlackBerrys.

But the Chinese woman was no true Mata Hari - if she were she would presumably have copied the BlackBerry's contents and returned it to the aide while he was still sleeping it off.

Downing Street said there was no compromise to security and mitigation measures have been taken. ®

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