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Mystery surrounds Gordon Brown's phone calls to Canterbury

Downing Street is tight-lipped about who was on the other end of a string of lengthy telephone calls to Canterbury, claimed by Gordon Brown on his second home expenses.

Phone bills submitted as part of the Prime Minister's claims for Additional Cost Allowance were published today as part of the latest release of expenses-related receipts.

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Rumours sweeping Westminster that Mr Brown may have been, at the height of the financial crisis, in deep conversations with the Archbishop of Canterbury were being discounted tonight.

But Number 10 refused to identify who had been on the other end of the line.

The first call, at 22.15 on March 27 last year, lasted one hour and 44 minutes but was only the third longest of six made to an unknown number in the Kent city.

A run of four calls were then placed between October 23 and November 3, with one running for just 17 minutes but two lasting nearly an hour and one a marathon two and three quarter hours.

All but the short call took place late in the evening or at night.

The last recorded call began at 10.29 pm on December 24 last year and did not end until nineteen minutes past midnight on Christmas Day itself.

It is not known if similar calls were included in the Prime Minister's claims last year as individual entries on the bill were hidden under a more restrictive censoring system in place then.

A Number 10 source would not be drawn on who the mystery calls were made to.

He said: "Expenditure on phone bills is allowed under the ACA rules and the Fees Office has cleared this expenditure. Sir Thomas Legg has also conducted an independent audit of these expenses and found no fault.

"Obviously we are not going to comment on individual phone calls."

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