updated 7/4/2008 8:10:38 AM ET 2008-07-04T12:10:38

Britain's senior intelligence official has been rushed to a London hospital after falling into a coma, officials said Friday, but foul play is not suspected in his sudden illness.

Alex Allan, chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee, remained unconscious Friday morning after falling ill several days ago, said a government spokeswoman who asked not to be identified because of government policy.

Allan's collapse was not revealed to the public until Friday morning.

Toxicology tests have been conducted to investigate whether Allan, 57, might have been poisoned, but thus far officials have found no indication of foul play in his collapse.

"We're treating this as non-suspicious," said a spokesman for the Metropolitan Police, who spoke on conditions of anonymity as required by police policy.

Allan, who has direct access to Prime Minister Gordon Brown, heads a Cabinet-level group responsible for providing the prime minister and other senior officials with intelligence reviews and assessments dealing with national security threats.

Sensitive role
His role is to review top-level intelligence reports from Britain's spy agencies and warn the prime minister about threats as they develop. He is not involved in actively gathering intelligence but has access to secret reports from British and American intelligence and to Britain's military files.

Allan, a devoted fan of the defunct American rock band the Grateful Dead, was an unusual choice for the sensitive role when he was appointed to the position in November, 2007. He has held a number of senior positions, including serving as secretary of the Department for Constitutional Affairs, but had little experience in the intelligence field.

While most people in his sensitive position have opted for secrecy and a low public profile, Allan posted details of his personal life on his Web site and was even photographed windsurfing to work along the River Thames. It did not go unnoticed that his sail bore the logo of the Grateful Dead.

Some of his Web postings dealt with the death last November of his wife, the Australian artist and sailor Katie Clemson. They had been married more than 29 years when she died of cancer in November, several weeks after his appointment.

The toxicology tests, the results of which have not been released, were conducted as a precaution in part because of the 2006 death by poisoning of former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko, who died in a London hospital after being exposed to deadly Polonium-210.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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