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Lewd voicemail hack on MP prompts probe

What's the story, moaning Tory?

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A prankster hacked into an MP's parliamentary voicemail and left a sexually offensive message for callers, the Mail on Sunday reports.

Tory MP Claire Perry told the paper that the voicemail of her landline was changed so that callers were asked whether they had recently engaged in a sex act, which she declined to describe. Perry reckons the breach is linked to a "general, system-wide failure" of Parliament's comms network.

"The Clerk of the House is taking it very seriously and the authorities are now investigating," she added.

Although the incident may provoke calls for a general review of phone and (perhaps) email security in the mother of parliaments, the MoS's spin that the incident illustrates a vulnerability that might be exploited by cyber-terrorists is comically overblown.

It's much more likely the Tory MP for Devizes, Wiltshire, forgot to change the default password, a factor subsequently exploited by a prankster or a malicious insider, perhaps someone who harbours a grudge against Perry.

If hackers had obtained compromised access to parliamentary voicemail systems, as Perry and the Mail on Sunday seem to think might have happened, then why draw attention to this by changing the voicemail message of a lowly backbencher? It's unclear whether or not anybody's voicemail messages were actually intercepted, a far more troubling possibility especially amid the ongoing controversy over the News of the World hacking scandal.

Perry was elected in May 2010, and since then she has submitted a private member's bill calling for Remembrance Sunday to be made a bank holiday. However, she is arguably more famous for her off-the-cuff remark, when she failed to attract the attention of Speaker John Bercow: "What do I have to do? Give him a blowjob?" ®

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