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Nokias, BlackBerrys pay ultimate price for Brown gov

Airborne handsets remembered in Commons

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Pondering what mobile phone will survive the toughest environments? Look no further than the House of Commons, where Tom Watson of the Cabinet Office yesterday gave a list of exactly which mobile phones have paid the ultimate price in Gordon Brown's battle against the world, the recession and everything.

Back in February, Tory Grandee Francis Maude asked the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster how many mobile phones had been replaced.

At the time, Kevin Brennan replied: "The Cabinet Office has recorded that of the mobile phones procured for official use under the Vodafone contracts, 11 have been reported lost, two stolen and 14 damaged during the past 18 months."

An innocent enough question, surely; but one that became more interesting when Bloomberg reported the Prime Minister's alleged propensity for taking out his frustration at the deepening economic crisis on office equipment, with cowering Downing St aides warning new recruits to watch out for "flying Nokias".

Cue another question from Francis Maude, who asked:

  • (1) whether any of the 14 damaged mobile telephones had been allocated to individuals who work in 10 Downing Street; [269953]
  • (2) what the cost to the public purse was of replacing the 14 damaged mobile telephones; [270170]
  • (3) what the (a) make and (b) model of each of the 14 damaged mobile telephones was. [270171]

Yesterday, it was Tom Watson who had to step up, and reveal that the toll included two Sony Ericssons, one Motorola RAZR, four BlackBerrys and yes, six Nokias.

But, he added, none of the 14 phones was actually issued to "individuals who work in Downing Street". And just in case anyone was wondering how much the taxpayer was having to shell out to keep government workers in shiny new mobes, the answer is nothing at all.

Under the terms of the contract the Department has with Vodafone, damaged handsets are replaced free of charge on a ‘like for like’ replacement policy.

Of course, the fact that none of the borked handsets were issued to Downing Street staffers doesn't mean a thing. After all, no one said that it was the PM throwing his own phones. ®

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