View Full Version : Lyrics Clash with Special Branch

Saturday, June 5th, 2004, 05:52 AM
Lyrics Clash with Special Branch

Mr Devine was told intelligence agencies were on "a higher state of alert"

A music fan was questioned by Special Branch after sending a text message of song lyrics to the wrong person.

Mike Devine, 35, from Bristol, said he was approached by the officer at work and shown a copy of a message including the words "gun" and "jet airliner".

The bassist in a Clash tribute group meant to text the lyric from the band's song Tommy Gun to singer Reg Shaw - but sent the message to the wrong number.

Mr Devine was not arrested or cautioned, a police spokeswoman said.

Avon and Somerset Police said a Special Branch officer visited Mr Devine after the person who received the message contacted police.

"How about this for Tommy Gun? Ok - So let's agree about the price and make it one jet airliner for ten prisoners" - Text message

Mr Devine, an engineer at Orange, said he was worried when the officer confronted him a month after he had sent the text.

"I had no idea why they could want to talk to me and so initially I thought it was just some sort of misunderstanding.

"However as we spent about 10 minutes looking for an available meeting room I began to worry about past events in my life. Had I done something wrong when I was small? Were my parents spies? I was getting worried."

Mr Devine said he was asked if he knew about Special Branch and was interrogated about his mobile phone account.

The father-of-two said the officer then produced a print-out of the text message, which he read out.

'State of alert'

"It read: "How about this for Tommy Gun? Ok - So let's agree about the price and make it one jet airliner for ten prisoners."

Mr Devine said the detective looked "puzzled" when he was told they were lyrics from the 1970s song Tommy Gun.

"We were having trouble working them out but I found them on the internet. I was just texting Reg our singer to see if he thought that they sounded right."

The bass player said he was told by the officer that intelligence agencies were "on a higher state of alert" due to the present climate.

His partner Becky May, 37, said: "He was a little shaken-up and shocked at first. But I think it is quite reassuring intelligence agencies are on top of these things."

A spokesman from GCHQ in Cheltenham refused to comment.

Saturday, June 5th, 2004, 07:21 AM
Cops swoop on fan's txt

and JOHN KAY, Chief Reporter
PUNK rock fan Mike Devine sent an innocent text message containing lyrics by The Clash — and was quizzed as a terror suspect after it was INTERCEPTED.

Computer worker Mike, 35, was confronted by a Special Branch cop at his office and taken for a grilling.

He was stunned to be shown a printout of his text which contained the words “gun” and “jet airliner”.

Mike, who in his spare time plays bass in a Clash tribute group, had sent the lyric from the song Tommy Gun to a bandmate a month earlier.

Grilled ... fan Mike

The cop accepted his explanation and let Mike go. But last night experts said the amazing incident proved NO phone call or text was now safe from monitoring in the war on terror. Mike, of Bristol — who works for mobile firm Orange — admitted: “I was bricking it.”

He told how his tribute band London Calling — named after a Clash album — had been struggling to remember a line in Tommy Gun. His text to singer Reg Shaw, 35, read:


Mike told how he was leaving a meeting at work last week when a Special Branch detective introduced himself.

Mike said: “I was thinking, ‘God, what have I done?’ We went into a room and sat down and he asked me if I knew about Special Branch.

"I said, ‘Yes’ — even though I didn’t really.

“He asked me lots of questions about my phone, such as was this my number and did I use it at the end of April. Then he produced a printout of a text and asked me if I had sent it.

Punk idols ... The Clash
Picture: REX

“I said, ‘That’s the lyrics from Tommy Gun’. I explained, ‘I’m in a tribute band and was sending the lyrics to the singer.’

“The bloke said, ‘Oh I see’ and looked a bit embarrassed.”

The song, written in the late 1970s, is about terrorists.

Mike said: “It hadn’t even occurred to me that it might look a bit dodgy. The man wrapped the interview up quite quickly. I was so relieved to find out that was all it was. It was quite nerve-racking for Special Branch to come looking for you at work.”

Terrorism expert Chris Dobson said: “It is clear from this incident that the computers at the GCHQ listening operation in Cheltenham have been programmed to listen in on all vocal and textual mobile phone traffic.

“They are probably programmed to pick out key words like bomb and hostage.

“Having this kind of surveillance is the price we have to pay in a modern society to protect us from terrorists.”

ARMED cops arrested council worker David Grey, 59, in Lanchester, Co Durham, after he told colleagues at his leaving do: “The chief executive should think himself bloody lucky I’m not the kind of person to use a gun.” He spent 17 hours in a cell before being freed without charge.

Saturday, June 5th, 2004, 05:58 PM
Here in the states the zog has a draconian spy system called ''Echelon''. What it does is goes thru ALL cell phone and other electronic comm.s looking for key words such as 'bomb' 'terrorist' 'high-jacking' etc. When the system gets a ''hit'' it alerts a human agent to look further into the missive. Its a very scary thought to me that this level of eavesdropping is allowed. I read in the newspaper that the F.B.I. showed up at a womans house with a warrant to search for bomb making supplies after Echelon had hit on the women talking to a friend about how her son had ''Really bombed on his test.'' This system is not only limited to the states.It is a world-wide super snoop. Big brother is here and we are running the risk of ALL of us being incarcerated for innocent speech. America needs to WAKE-UP before its too late! Always beware of the law which is passed for ''our own good!'' I believe that it was Ben Franklin who said; '' Those who would give up fundamental Liberties for temporary safety are neither deserving of safety nor liberty!'' I agree but it seems that the citizens of this country are willing to live in cages to feel ''safe'' from those big ole mean 'terrorists' that the govt. Claims are behind every tree, and every rock. I have never felt really threatend by Al-queada and the like. But I guess I am the minority in this.