Terrorism threat reduced to negligible after GCHQ crack Frank Sidebottom’s secret codes

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UK citizens will get a sound night’s sleep tonight after Frank Sidebottom’s encrypted data was found to pose no significant threat to sentient lifeforms.

The comedy cult figure, created by Mancunian legend Chris Sievey, came to the attention of GCHQ spooks in the nineties due to the use of bizarre symbols around his newsletters.

Codebreakers worked around the clock amid fears that the guy with the papier-mâché head was the front for an Islamist or far-right organisation, because that seemed like an excellent use of resources at the time.

GCHQ spokesman, Simon Williams, said, “Sidebottom was a dangerous cult figure with a distinctive nasal voice, which he could have used to spread vile propaganda in an innocent, jokey sort of way.

“When you consider that he lived in Timperley, a hot-bed of extremism with its own Metrolink station, well, it’s no wonder that we had a lengthy file on him.

“However, the hieroglyphs that we suspected were incitements to ‘kill all the Jews’ or ‘join the Labour Party’, were just the names and addresses of people who worked for Granada Reports.

“After all that, it was all totally innocent.”

In response, the government has downgraded the threat posed by quirky northern cabaret acts from “severe” to “negligible”, which is just one level up from “no longer arsed”.

Williams added, “Sidebottom may have been exonerated, but we’re still coming after you, John Shuttleworth.”

Last night, experts were unable to confirm reports that Sidebottom’s glove puppet, Little Frank, has fled the country and joined Hamas.