The purr-fect spy? After Freya the cat's mysterious vanishing act, No10 insiders are asking if Osborne's roving tabby has returned as a Chinese agent.
George Osborne's cat disappeared in 2009 but returned two years later
Warnings that Freya has breached security at sensitive buildings
Some warn Chinese may have bugged Freya to eavesdrop secret meetings
By Tim Shipman, Deputy Political Editor
'Trying to break into the Treasury'
If curiosity killed the cat, this one is putting her nine lives on the line every day – and some suspect she’s not acting alone.
George Osborne’s wandering pet Freya has sparked claims of dastardly foreign espionage tactics after breaching security at some of the Government’s most sensitive buildings.
Senior figures have warned the Chancellor that his highly inquisitive feline may have developed 007-style leanings since she mysteriously reappeared in Downing Street after a curious two-year absence
The Chancellor bought the tabby as a present for his two children in 2009 when the Conservatives were still in opposition and the Osbornes were living in Notting Hill, West London. But within a few months, she went missing.
Last year, having moved into Downing Street, Mr Osborne’s novelist wife Frances got an out-of-the-blue call telling her Freya had been found, apparently living as a stray and being ‘looked after’ by a ‘neighbour’.
She was returned to the Osbornes thanks to a microchip under her skin carrying Mrs Osborne’s phone number.
But there are some who are suspicious about Freya’s absence and wonder whether she might have been fitted with other electronic devices.
‘Some of us think the Chinese got her,’ said one Tory source. ‘She can get everywhere. You’d only have to bug her and you could find out half the Government’s secrets.’
With her ability to slip unnoticed past policemen, metal detectors and the protection squad, insiders say Freya may just be the ‘purr-fect spy’.
Over the past few months, the crafty cat has been found in the most secure area of the Foreign Office, inside the Cabinet room in Number 10 and even trying to break into the Treasury.
On one occasion, she was spotted in the command centre of a secret ‘war gaming’ exercise involving the Royal Navy. When officials asked how she had got there, Mr Osborne’s advisers replied: ‘She’s from the Treasury. She gets everywhere.’
On the prowl: Freya roams the streets of Whitehall.
Concerns have been raised as Freya has gained access to some of the Government's most sensitive buildings. [See map]
By contrast, David Cameron’s chief mouser Larry prefers to spend his days sitting on a hot air vent next to the famous door to Number 10.
And he is unlikely to be the one to rein in Freya since she picked a dawn catfight with him shortly after her return – and won.
Like any good agent trying to pick up intelligence, she also likes to spend time in the bar.
She can be found in Westminster’s favourite watering hole, the Red Lion pub, on several evenings a week – despite having to cross four lanes of Whitehall traffic to get there.
Barmaids regularly have to escort her home to 11 Downing Street at the end of the evening.
With a taste for the theatrical, Freya has also had to be rescued from the dressing rooms behind the stage at the Trafalgar Studio Theatre nearly half a mile away.
As Chancellor and the Tories’ chief political strategist, Mr Osborne knows more secrets than anyone else in Government.
‘I said to George “are you sure she’s not a spy”,’ the source said. ‘I mean, compared to Larry she’s certainly got a drive about her.’
Freya is not the first political cat to set tongues wagging. Long-term resident Humphrey mysteriously disappeared from Number 10 shortly after Labour’s election win in 1997.
Some blamed Tony Blair’s wife, Cherie, although officials insisted Humphrey had simply retired from mousing duty due to health problems.
Credit to: RexFeatures/Steve Back, London News/Rex Featu
Also, of course, my dear husband Bernard who found this article