Affinity One Security Solutions
Tel 08000 336 999 Specialist in Burglar
Alarms, CCTV and Security Solutions
Specialists in Burglar Alarms,CCTV and Security Solution
Burglars armed with kitchen knives steal top Tory's laptop hours before crucial TV debate
David Cameron's preparation for tonight's make-or-break live TV debate was disrupted today after the home of one of his shadow cabinet was burgled.
Shadow defence secretary Liam Fox's car and a laptop were stolen by burglars last night while he was asleep.
He noticed nothing amiss at the central London property until he woke up this morning, when he raised the alarm.
Dr Fox told how the burglars had taken knives from his kitchen cupboards and placed them on the worktops, apparently ready to use if they were caught in the act.
The break-in raised fears crucial details about Tory defence strategy could be leaked ahead of Mr Cameron's showdown with party leaders later.
The clash is focused on foreign affairs, with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan likely to be a major battleground.
Dr Fox was also key to drawing up the Tory manifesto - prompting speculation his computer could contain vital information about strategy at the top of the party.
The Tory frontbencher later denied that any briefing papers for the debate or sensitive party documents were among the items stolen.
The burglary comes barely 24 hours after a Lib Dem strategist left an embarrassing dossier detailing their plan for Nick Clegg to copy Mr Cameron in the back of a taxi.
Dr Fox had been due to outline the Tories' armed forces manifesto this morning but the launch was cancelled at short notice.
He was at his home in Tower Bridge, surveying the damage instead as crime scene officers hunted for any clues.
The manifesto explicitly criticises Gordon Brown for his handling of the armed forces, setting the scene for what will be a key strand of Tory attack tonight.
Forensic officers could be seen working on the rear balcony of the property as Dr Fox, dressed in shirt and tie, looked on through the open patio doors.
A police car was parked behind the smart modern five-storey apartment block and a lone police officer was making regular patrols outside.
Dr Fox's wife Jesme was not in the property during the raid because she is stuck in Hong Kong due to the travel chaos caused by the volcanic ash.
Details of the break-in emerged on the day quarterly crime statistics for England and Wales were being published by the Home Office.
They showed home burglaries have fallen significantly nationally, but police in London battled a spike in the crime late last year.
Investigation: Forensic officers examine the balcony of Dr Fox's flat
Dr Fox, speaking outside the block, said: 'I feel like anyone else who has been the victim of an opportunistic burglary. It's not very nice to have someone in your house, particularly when you have been in it.
'It's even less nice when they have taken knives out of the kitchen drawer and leave them placed so that they can threaten you on their getaway.
'But I'm not the only person in this country who has been a victim of crime and I will have greater sympathy in the future with people who are. As Tony Blair once said, things can only get better.'
Affinity One Security Solutions 08000 336 999
Cameron admits TV debate is 'make-or-break' as leaders go to ground to prepare for crucial showdown
'I've gone from being Churchill to a Nazi in a week': Clegg defends attack on Britain's 'delusions of grandeur' over WWII
Nick Clegg received Lib Dem donations directly into his personal bank account
So much for cleaning up politics! Leaks reveal how Lib Dem MPs were told to milk expenses to spend on propaganda
Public borrowing hits record £152.8bn, taking debt to all-time high at 62% of GDP
Tories to tackle mental health 'time bomb' in armed forces
He said there were a number of documents in the flat but that they had not been stolen and he declared he would not turn an 'unpleasant personal upset' into a 'political stunt'.
'It's back to business as usual in as much as you can have business as usual when you have had locksmiths in to change the locks,' he said.
He later left the property to travel to his constituency in Somerset, where he will watch tonight's leaders' debate.
Mr Cameron said: 'I am very sorry for Liam. I have been burgled a couple of times and it is a horrible shock that someone has been into your house and taken your things.
'You feel completely invaded and thinking about getting everything together and sorting all that out.
'The police will find who did it and I am sure Liam will want us to get on with our campaign.'
Neighbour Karalene Spiers said she did not hear anything in the night to alert her to the burglary. 'It's quite worrying,' she said.
Miss Spiers, 29, said security had been improved after a spate of bicycle thefts last year.
She said: 'We have to use a fob to be let in and out of the gates now. There are always people coming and going though. It's not a quiet development.'
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson said: 'I have heard about Liam Fox being burgled and I hear reports someone was in the house. If that is the case it makes it even worse.
'I have said it time and time again, burglary remains a heinous offence and anybody who enters a house to burgle should automatically expect to be sent to prison.
'When you have got somebody who is actually inside the house at the same time, the distress that must cause must be hideous, whether you are Liam Fox or anybody else.
'I am sorry it has happened to Liam Fox and I am sorry it happens to anyone in our society.'
A Conservative spokesman said: 'I can confirm that Liam Fox's car was stolen last night and police are investigating.'
A Scotland Yard spokesman said: 'Police were called at 7.20am to an address in SE1 to reports of a burglary. Officers are currently in attendance and the burglary squad from Southwark are investigating. There have been no arrests.'