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Last Updated: Saturday, 28 January 2006, 01:37 GMT
Eighteen charged in 'snoop' probe
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BT helped police with their investigation
Eighteen men have been charged with a range of offences after a long-running telecoms snooping investigation.

A probe into alleged phone tapping by a London private detective agency sparked the police operation, across the city, south England, Lincolnshire and France.

The men will appear in court next month on charges ranging from accessing NHS files for blackmail to intercepting phone calls.

Others are accused of hoarding telecoms equipment owned by firms BT and NTL.

Probe widened

The charges also involve alleged modifying of computer material, falsifying invoices and conducting surveillance on law enforcement agencies and witnesses.

The charges follow a Metropolitan Police probe into a private detective agency concerning alleged phone interception for clients.

The defendants, who are aged between 30 and 68, come from several areas including Northants, Kent, Oxfordshire, Somerset, Surrey, Sussex, London and France.

One man is alleged to have collected BT overalls and a reflective jacket complete with tools, wires, a folding stool and barriers.

The collection is also said to have contained a shirt from rival NTL.

Six men were initially arrested in September 2004 but the probe was widened with help from BT.

Over the past four days a total of 18 men were charged. All were bailed to appear at Bow Street Magistrates' Court, in London, on 23 February.

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