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Government U-turn on mobiles

Patricia Hewitt's assurances that hands free kits provide protection from radiation were wrong

Hands free kits for mobile phones may not offer users any protection against radiation according to the latest government information which contradicts a statement on their use earlier this year.

As part of a £7m research programme into the health effects of mobile phone radiation, leaflets will warn consumers of the potential risks of using a mobile phone.

The programme is jointly funded by government and the mobile industry and concedes that is it not certain whether hands-free kits protect the brain from radiation.

The new advice contradicts previous guidance from E-commerce minister Patricia Hewitt who said of a in August that "hands-free kits reduce exposure for mobile phone users. It is important that the public is provided with clear and unambiguous advice about the use of hands-free kit."

Hewitt has been criticised by several experts for being over zealous with assurances on public safety.

The Consumer Association claimed in November that the amount of radiation emitted by a mobile phone may be increased up to three and a half times when used with a hands-free kit. However, the Department Of Trade and Industry dismissed the research, casting doubts on the methodology used by the Consumers' Association.