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Tuesday, 25 June, 2002, 13:47 GMT 14:47 UK
UK security details 'listed on web'
Police footage of the 2 May disorder at Millwall football club
Were security frequencies used by Millwall hooligans?
The safety of the Royal Family and top politicians is at risk because classified security details are being published on the internet, it has been revealed.

Radio scanning enthusiast Paul Wey is intercepting Special Branch and other communications and publishing their details on internet news groups, BBC Radio 4's Today programme has learned.

An intelligence source said Mr Wey was a "menace", whose actions could help terrorists commit atrocities and may have already been used to counter police operations.

Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Simon Hughes said the government must consider banning radio scanners, which are currently illegal to use but not to own.

'Limited harm'

Mr Wey, from Hertford, told Today he had a list of frequencies used by security for any big events or organisations in London.

Paul Wey
Security details have been posted on Paul Wey's newsgroups
He admitted that what he was doing was illegal, but denied the information he was publishing would be "gold dust" to potential terrorists.

He said: "They would be aware of these things whether I published them or not", adding that the harm being done to national security was "limited".

Mr Wey suggested that his activities could prompt the authorities to take better care of security - for instance by ensuring that Special Branch's radio equipment was updated as it should be.

Restricted

The intelligence source said Mr Wey and his website were "a severe danger to the public and to national security".


They can only be used for illegal activity

Security source
"It's basically what I would describe as an ex-directory publication of radio frequencies used by the government, security services, military and police and other emergency services throughout the UK."

She said the frequencies and files published contained "highly restricted" information.

The source called for the site to be closed down, as well as for scanners to be made illegal.

She said: "They can only be used for illegal activity. It's similar to saying to somebody: 'It's OK to have a gun, as long as you don't put bullets in it'."

Millwall suspicion

The source suggested Mr Wey's newsgroup may have been used by Millwall supporters to avoid police during riots at the south London football club on 2 May.

A month before the riots, someone claiming to be a Millwall supporter posted a message on Mr Wey's site.

It read: "We're always getting bothered by the police so want to turn it the other way around and watch them closely.

"Does anyone know the exact frequency or listen to police when Millwall games are on?"

Mr Wey said he would not entertain such questions on his website: "I'm not having people like that on the group."

However, the Today programme has seen evidence that Mr Wey provided the supporter with radio frequencies, plus information about police deployments and intelligence.

Prosecutions

Speaking to the BBC Simon Hughes said: "The first thing that needs to happen is to make sure that the equipment that the police have is the best available.

"We have to make sure that our people doing this job have the most secure communications possible."

The Queen
There are fears the Queen's security is at risk
The options for action the UK authorities could take against Mr Wey are limited.

Most web groups like his are registered in the US and, as such, are out of bounds to the UK authorities.

But a Home Office spokeswoman said it was also illegal to publish transmissions on websites, and added that people had been prosecuted in the past.

She said: "The material would have to be assessed to see if any offence had been committed or if there was any civil wrong."

There is also the option of prosecuting Internet Service Providers which fail to remove the material if they know it is there.

The maximum penalty for listening to private radio communications with a scanner is a 5,000 fine and confiscation of the equipment.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Fergus Walsh
"It's not illegal to own a scanner"
See also:

06 Jun 02 | Science/Nature
18 Jun 02 | UK Politics
23 Jun 02 | England
28 Jun 99 | Americas
Internet links:


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