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The eyes of evil are everywhere

Last time we caught up with John Booth, the irrepressible former National Union of Teachers' press officer, he was bravely embarking on a quest to unseat the Prince of Darkness, Peter Mandelson, from his Hartlepool parliamentary citadel. Three weeks into the joust, strange happenings are fraying our hero's nerves.

Mr Booth, once axed as a Labour press officer by Mr Mandelson, first smelled a rat when a letter he had written to the BBC disappeared from a newsagent's copying machine last week. It later appeared in the possession of the ark Lord's factotums, who said it was sent to them by a constituent.

Mr Booth called in the constabulary alleging theft. As he discussed the missing letter with the police, his mobile unaccountably called the number of a friend who could hear the entire conversation. Other callers have found his number unobtainable.

"Tapping," Mr Booth whispers.

While the police point out that mobiles can be accidentally dialled and that number unobtainable messages aren't exactly unknown, they have taken the phone away for tests.

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