Police officer 'sold royal family contact details'


News of the World 'paid royal police officer' for details

I have learned that News of the World e-mails uncovered by News International in 2007 contained evidence that the Sunday newspaper was paying a Royal Protection Officer for the contact details of senior members of the royal family, their friends and their relations.

According to a source, the e-mails include requests by a reporter for sums of about £1,000 to pay police officers in the royal protection branch for the information. The phone details could have been used to hack phones of the royal family.

"There was clear evidence from the e-mails that the security of the royal family was being put at risk," the source said. "I was profoundly shocked when I saw them."

The source added that the e-mails were unambiguous signs of criminal activity at the News of the World.

"It is quite astonishing that these emails were not handed to the police for investigation when they were first found in 2007", he said.

The e-mails were not passed to the Metropolitan police until 20 June this year, when they were re-obtained - from the offices of the solicitors Harbottle and Lewis - by a recently appointed new team of News International executives.

James Murdoch, News International's chairman, has said he was not in the picture about the full extent of wrongdoing at the News of the World until recently.

You can read more about these e-mails in my blog of yesterday. And I will publish some additional details in a bit.

Update, 13:55: I can now disclose more detail about the extraordinary e-mails that appear to show royal protection officers were selling confidential information to the News of the World.

In one of the dynamite e-mails, Clive Goodman - the paper's disgraced former royal editor - was requesting cash from the newspaper's editor, Andy Coulson, to buy a confidential directory of the Royal Family's landline telephone numbers, and all the phone numbers - including mobiles - of the household staff.

The relevant e-mail implies that a police officer in royal protection had stolen the directory, which is known as the Green Book, and wanted £1000 for it.

The Green Book contains, for example, the home numbers of Princess Anne, Prince Edward and so on. It provides more complete contact details of officials working for all the Royal Family.

The directory is stamped "secure" on the cover. When members of the royal household receive a copy they have to sign for it. And it is supposed to be locked away when not in use.

The implication of the e-mails is that the News of the World had bought the Green Book on at least one previous occasion.

The e-mails also suggest that the News of the World had police contacts in a number of royal palaces, and had bought information from several of them.

Robert Peston Article written by Robert Peston Robert Peston Economics editor

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  • rate this

    Comment number 158.

    What other revelatons are yet to come?, News Corp is toxic per see. but who else is at it.? As for the Met well they have blown apart the notion that Chief Constables should retain their operational independance.

  • rate this

    Comment number 157.

    For the Murdoch clan to claim they didn't know what was going on shows them to be either a) incompetent to the point of criminality, b) liars, or c) both.

    Regardless of which category then fall into they are clearly not "fit and proper" to own BskyB. On that note they are not "fit and proper" to own any media in the UK.

  • rate this

    Comment number 156.

    This is not "the worse to come" that Brookes mentions. The Windsor family have been targetted before, this is a new twist on an 'old' story. We shall have to wait and see see but I beleive it is something far more damaging to our democracy. Speculation on the exact specific may lead to comments being blocked but suffice to say Murdoch has had the ear of every PM, Labout and Tory, since Thatcher.

  • Comment number 155.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 154.

    Add to that the timing of the change in "Terror alert" status and an attempt to control the political agenda by rattling on about "Big society" and this tells us two things.
    Firstly, Both the big Society idea and Terrorist threats are used as Political ruses - cards that can be played when Cameron wants to cover his back.
    Secondly, Cameron is firmly on the side of Murdoch.
    Time for Cameron to go

  • rate this

    Comment number 153.

    Why refer BSKYB to the competition commission?
    Its a smokescreen.
    Murdoch is squirming and scheming in order to get his hands on big profit BskyB.
    He wants to appear like he has acted morally in closing NOTW.
    Cameron strangely missing from Westminster today.
    Cameron wants the next election assured and thinks Murdoch can deliver it.
    Real contempt for the UK electorate.
    Very Slimy Indeed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 152.

    R : "Give me BskyB and I'll give you the next election"
    D : "I think we'll put that one on hold for a bit Rupert. But don't worry, they'll grow tired in the end - They've got short memories - come back in a year"

  • rate this

    Comment number 151.

    Maybe Robert is compromising investigation, but Murdoch's (successful) tactics are always to mislead/distort with propaganda leading to manipulated people power so this is the best way to combat it. Action on MP's expenses didn't happen until people power made it, the same is true with this scandal. We need people power which means the population has to know, not just the police or government

  • rate this

    Comment number 150.


    Surely you are not suggesting that cutting public spending has 'unintended consequences in the private sector'?

    Gosh - you have just overqualified yourself for the job as chancellor of the exchequer with such a revelation!

    The public sector has been subsidising the private sector for sometime now. You cut one and the other dies...slowly.

  • rate this

    Comment number 149.

    No, I doubt many people are surprised. But the pleasant surprise is that the (thin) veil of secrecy has been removed so that nobody can any longer pretend not to know.
    Murdoch will still probably come out unscathed and stronger at the end. After all Conservatives named for conserving status quo, and if political parties were named in the fashion of TV channels, Labour would be Conservative 2

  • rate this

    Comment number 148.

    Over the past few years, it seems that the fabric of society in this country has been utterly shredded. The villains are well known and span the whole of our culture.

    I just hope that David Cameron has the courage to reject the status quo and cleanse this rotten, incestuous system once and for all.

    This is more important than mere politics. It's about the character of a nation.

    We shall see.

  • rate this

    Comment number 147.

    Only the surprise surprises me. Haven't we known for years that there is a minority in the police who make money by selling info. to the media? The honest ones admit it, but professional solidarity and the known fate of whistle-blowers prevents anything happening. Why were the media there at the early-morning attempted arrest of Harry Redknapp?Even the heavily-vetted royal protection squad do it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 146.

    Why are they briefing a hack like you rather than talking to the Police??? And why are you supporting them in creating channels "for their STORY" other than the appropriate legal ones.

    I use the word story, so that you don't pretend that being briefed by a highly compromised source = Journalism.

    Me thinks you are being played, and you are smart enough to know that, so why are you helping?

  • Comment number 145.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 144.

    And what of other news groups? Me thinks that many other papers are quietly getting away with it while the News International story blows so loudly.

  • rate this

    Comment number 143.

    If you cannot trust the Police with your personal data then who the hell can you trust? Time to start a criminal investigation because laws have been broken big time.
    Corruption in the UK is every where like any other country, only difference here is the UK is very good at covering it up. Newspapers bribing police officers for information, the officers involved need identifying and prosecuting.

  • rate this

    Comment number 142.

    All these politicians have been sucking up to Murdoch for years, so have most journalists. Blair was even more supine than Cameron. We knew Murdoch was a ruthless megalomaniac, this isn't news. On a separate note, Mr Peston, I'm sure you are a nice person but please get some elocution lessons to learn to talk at a consistent speed. Otherwise stick to writing and avoid speaking at all costs.

  • rate this

    Comment number 141.

    The obvious outstanding question is that if this information was sold to the NotW for ONLY £1000, how many other news organisations also bought it? - Perhaps the Daily Mail, Daily Express, Daily Star, Daily Telegraph et al may care to comment as to what they know about their own arrangements?

    Oh and add all the celebrity mags. A very good little earner for the Royal Protection Police!

  • Comment number 140.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 139.

    How can Yates of the Yard stay in place after such total incompetence on his part in the still developing story. Its bad enough that the police were breaking the law taking bungs but for very senior officers to totally bungle investigations is more than disgraceful. As for Mrs Brooks I am sure she will be out of a job soon as more terrible revelations come out into the public arena.


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