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Last Updated: Tuesday, 4 November, 2003, 11:52 GMT
Randy ram drives spies baa-rmy
A sheep
Staff at GCHQ were said to be 'sheepish' over the case
The source of a mysterious high frequency transmission which had baffled staff at the UK's top spy base has been revealed as a lovestruck sheep.

A randy ram had been rubbing itself against a radio mast in Scarborough, North Yorkshire, every time it mated.

But the amorous activities were causing concern at the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), in Cheltenham, as staff intercepted strange signals from the same transmitter at roughly the same time every day.

The culprit only came to light after an investigation was launched and a member of staff spotted the ram while staking out the mast site.

The light-hearted case was revealed in the Daily Observer - a new spoof newspaper launched as part of a GCHQ promotion drive.

I believe the ram was notching up a mark on the pylon, so to speak
Bob McNally, GCHQ spokesman
It read: "An investigation was quickly launched, revealing that the signal was across all the high-frequency bands.

"Stranger still, only Scarborough's aerials could pick it up.

"Exhaustive tests were launched, revealing the answer - a horny ram."

Bob McNally, a spokesman for GCHQ, which provides the government with national security information, told BBC News Online: "I believe it was part of the ritual that the ram went through after it had made a conquest.

"I believe the ram was notching up a mark on the pylon, so to speak."

Mr McNally stressed that one of the more light-hearted episodes in the history of the national security services was a good way to attract the 300 or so new recruits required this year.

He added: "We are competing in a very fierce environment for the best graduates and we decided to move away from the traditional brochure approach.

"We cannot talk about what we do often. But we have gone for a wide appeal and have tried to tickle the funny bone."

GCHQ staff squeeze into 'doughnut'
17 Sep 03  |  Gloucestershire
In pictures: GCHQ's new HQ
20 Jun 03  |  Photo Gallery

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