Spy pen? Not in Mr Bond’s universe

Share this article
Have your say

It’s not what quite the sleek bit of kit one imagines James Bond would use in his adventures in espionage – despite having been referred to as a “spy pen” by the SNP convener of the education committee.

In fact, the technology used by former Stow College head Kirk Ramsay to record Michael Russell’s speech can be purchased from leading high street stores and online retailers.

Known as a smart pen, the model used by Mr Ramsay was a LiveScribe, the cheapest version of which sells for about £160.

“It is not a ‘spy pen’. It’s quite a clunky kind of thing – not the sort of thing you can use without folk knowing,” Mr Ramsay said.

“I have had it for three and a half to four years – you can buy it on Amazon.”

Mr Ramsay said other people at the meeting were using iPads, iPhones and newer versions of the LiveScribe, and may have also been recording Mr Russell’s comments.

While smart pens can be used like conventional dictaphones, their users can also take notes on special paper covered in microdots. This allows the note-taker to play back the recording of any part of a speech by touching that particular part of their microdot notes with the pen.

Users can also scan in documents with the device, which is larger than a conventional ballpoint pen.

Mr Ramsay, who suffers from tinnitus, said that the pen allowed him to properly record speeches, details of which may otherwise have been lost because of his hearing condition.

Stewart Maxwell, a SNP MSP and convener of the Scottish Parliament’s education committee, claimed that the device used by Mr Ramsay was “covert”.