David Payne, a forty-three year old Air Traffic Controller from Hayes Middlesex, is believed to be the first person in England to have been sectioned under the Mental Health Act and is being held in a West London secure unit just for typing 'LOL' on his Blackberry.
In a move seen by civil liberties groups as being a sinister step too far, the hapless father of three will remain in the unit until such times as his sanity can be established.
The amazing sequence of events came about after his bosses checked his work phone routinely and in line with its IT policy. They found David had been using it for general emailing and social networking, not in itself a problem, but it was when they saw 'LOL' in many of his communications that trouble started.
Alan Black, IT Manager commented, "When we checked Mr Payne's Blackberry we saw these three mysterious characters 'LOL' cropping up again and again. At first we were stumped, it meant nothing to us. But it was only when one of our younger members of staff told us it was a sort of 'street' shorthand for 'Laughing out loud' alarm bells started to ring. I mean we couldn't have someone in such a sensitive role laughing out loud for no reason. And because he was doing it so often we at once realised that he was quite possibly suffering from some kind of mental illness. So of course we had to inform the relevant authorities. I suppose if I'm being honest, we were a little taken aback by the strength of their response, and indeed perhaps it may be seen by some as being a bit heavy-handed; but needs must when our national safety is on the line."
Prime Minister, David Cameron has said that the authorities intend to look into this matter more closely, and he is believed to be considering appointing a Mobile Communications Tzar to hold a full inquiry. If there are found to be more widespread problems, then government may have to consider rushing some kind of badly thought-out knee-jerk legislation through Parliament; in order that the public can see that something is being done and the problem is being tackled head-on.
A Downing St source said, "We can't have mentally deranged people in positions of importance typing 'LOL' all over the place. We urge all responsible employers to monitor their employees' communications closely, and should any further patterns of mysterious groupings of letters be spotted, then they should let us know and the matter will be swiftly dealt with in strictest confidence."
Meanwhile Mr Payne has released the following statement through his solicitor. :-(