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CELL PHONE; Mobile smuggled into Category A jail that houses UK's major terror suspects.

Byline: By AIDAN MCGURRAN

THE former inmate who smuggled a mobile phone into Belmarsh jail told last night how easily he sneaked it past prison guards.

He hid the handset in his underpants as he arrived from court before handing it to a con working as a trusted orderly who then whisked it through reception and into the cell block.

The prisoner later discreetly handed it back to him and he was free to phone or text and take pictures inside the high-security jail that houses around a hundred suspected Islamic terrorists.

He was even offered thousands of pounds for the phone but refused because he feared it could be used to direct terror plots like the London Tube bombings, plan break-outs and run criminal empires from behind bars.

The source, who was charged pounds 30 by the orderly for his services, said: "I was shocked by how easy it was to get the phone in and to use it inside over a long period.

"I was able to send texts home and I took a few pictures to prove what I had done. But if a phone fell into the wrong hands there is no knowing what may happen.

"I used it to make about six video clips showing my cell, the landing, the outside yard, the security office, the sports block.

"Some show clearly where surveillance cameras are placed.

"The orderly is in such a trusted position and has special privileges he is obviously allowed to bypass security procedures."

Prison Service chiefs have launched a probe into the appalling lapse of security.

The former inmate, who is now free after the charge he faced was dropped, was held in House Block 4 of the Category A prison in South East London.

It is believed terror suspects such as hook-handed cleric Abu Hamza and Hussain Osman - extradited from Italy over a failed Tube suicide attack - are housed there.

After smuggling the Samsung D500 past the supposedly stringent security checks upon arrival, the source used it for a month - charging it up with just a battery and two wires. During that time, he claimed, his cell was never thoroughly searched by wardens.

He added: "I was careful about when I used the phone. I had heard guards sweep landings with devices that pick up signals, so I lived in fear of being caught.

"When I was confident I couldn't be seen I used it to take pictures. It occurred to me then that in the wrong hands a phone could be used to plan a break-out.

"A prisoner I befriended worked as a cleaner and he told me someone was prepared to pay several thousand pounds in cash to my missus if I handed the phone over on a no-questions-asked basis.

"I said no, because there was no knowing whose hands it could have fallen into. I didn't want to risk my phone being used by terrorists to try to plan a break-out or, God forbid, organise atrocities.

"When I went to exercise I left the phone in my pillow case. The guards would come in, check the bars and give the room a quick once-over but never went near the phone.

"The cleaner told me there had not been a proper search for a while. This is a high-security prison with some dangerous inmates. What I did shouldn't be possible.

"The prison authorities need to ensure it can't be done again."

When he was freed, the former inmate did the same procedure with the orderly in reverse to smuggle the phone out.

The security lapse has sparked fears other phones could have been smuggled into the block.

And it will be a huge embarrassment to the Prison Service which prides itself on Belmarsh being one of the most secure jails in the country.

Security was given an overhaul two years ago when the jail was criticised in a report after four mobiles were found in cells.

The Prison Service said: "Security is paramount in prisons and we take breaches seriously. There are rigorous search systems in place at Belmarsh.

"Unfortunately, we are aware there are occasional breaches and items such as mobile phones do find their way into prisons.

"We have launched an investigation into this case.

"Analysis of the photographs does not suggest the safety of the public has been put at risk."

CAPTION(S):

GUARD..but phone was still smuggled in; CAMERAS; Inmate used phone to show where security cameras are placed in yard; INSIDE CELL; A prison bed in high- security Belmarsh Jail; ALL MOD CONS; Wash basin and toilet in cell are captured on the prisoner's mobile; PRISON YARD; Inmate was able to photograph area where dangerous criminals exercise; MOBILE; It was so easy to smuggle Samsung D500 into jail
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Dec 5, 2005
Words:795
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