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Last Updated: Wednesday, 30 June, 2004, 10:16 GMT 11:16 UK
M&S boss call records 'spied on'
Stuart Rose
Has M&S boss Stuart Rose had his phone records accessed?
Marks & Spencer is investigating an apparent attempt to spy on the mobile phone records of its boss Stuart Rose.

The retailer has confirmed that someone attempted to access Mr Rose's phone records from mobile network MMO2.

Mr Rose, who is leading M&S' efforts to see off a takeover attempt, is thought to have found out after MMO2 asked him for a security code he had not set up.

MMO2 has also said it is looking at the matter, which came as Mr Rose is being questioned over share dealings in M&S.

Phone call

Mr Rose has been questioned by the Financial Services Authority in light of what the regulator said were "suspicious price movements" in M&S shares shortly before a takeover approach - by retail tycoon Philip Green - became public knowledge.

Mobile phone
We never confirm the identity of any of our customers, but it is true that we were alerted yesterday to a possible unauthorised attempt to obtain one of our customer's mobile phone records
MMO2 spokesman

The investigation centres around a phone conversation Mr Rose had with Mr Green on 7 May.

While both sides say the phone call did not mention M&S, Mr Rose, who was then not at M&S, purchased 100,000 shares in the retailer later that day.

When Mr Green said on 27 May that he was thinking of bidding for M&S the company's share price rose.

Mr Rose, who took over as M&S chief executive at the end of May, is now said to wonder how he could be challenged over that conversation unless someone had access to his phone records.

Unauthorised

"We can confirm that it appears someone has accessed Stuart Rose's telephone records and we are looking into that further," said an M&S spokesman.

An MMO2 spokesman confirmed to BBC News Online that the matter was under investigation at its end.

"We never confirm the identity of any of our customers, but it is true that we were alerted yesterday to a possible unauthorised attempt to obtain one of our customers' mobile phone records," he said.

"We are investigating this matter and the possibility that someone has sought to gain information by deception and whether any information has been obtained."

The spokesman added that any impostor would have to know a substantial amount of information about the person they were pretending to be in order to get past security checks, and that they would then only be able to access standard billing information.

The revelation of possible phone records theft does not however appear to have affected the M&S share price, which was stable on Wednesday morning at 362.75, up 0.25p.

Security call

M&S has approached security firms Kroll and Control Risks only to be told that they had a conflict of interest.

Philip Green's camp has denied hiring anyone to spy on M&S.

Mr Rose is also said to be considering his options with regard to investment bank Goldman Sachs, which is advising Mr Green.

The M&S boss has accused Goldman Sachs of "promoting an untruth" about what he told Rosemary Thorne, finance director of British mortgage bank Bradford & Bingley, at the Chelsea Flower Show on 24 May.

It is reported M&S made a complaint after it was suggested that a Goldman banker had said he overheard Mr Rose tell Ms Thorne he was about to become chairman of Mr Green's bid vehicle.

But the Reuters news agency cited sources close to the situation as saying that Mr Rose was instead referring to the chairmanship of Saga, a provider of financial services, magazines and holidays to the over-50s.




WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Quentin Sommerville
"M&S has now tightened up security, they've swept the boss' office and checked it for bugs"



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