St. Petersburg Times Online: Business

Weather | Sports | Forums | Comics | Classifieds | Calendar | Movies

Royals wonder if snoops on phone

British police arrest three suspects after a phone-tapping complaint from the prince's office.

Published August 9, 2006

LONDON - British police arrested three men, including a newspaper section editor, Tuesday in an investigation that began with complaints from Prince Charles' office about possible phone-tapping, police and the paper said.

Police said they did not believe the phones of any members of the royal family had been tapped. But other public figures may have had their calls intercepted, raising potential security issues, the police said. They refused to specify whom.

Police did not identify those who were arrested, but the News of the World tabloid said Clive Goodman, editor of its section on royalty, was among them.

Hayley Barlow, a spokeswoman for the Sunday newspaper, declined to comment further.

The investigation was prompted by complaints from Charles' Clarence House office to the police's royalty protection department.

"It is focused on alleged repeated security breaches within telephone networks over a significant period of time and the potential impact this may have on protective security around a number of individuals," London's Metropolitan Police said in a statement.

Charles' office declined to comment on the arrests.

Police said they had arrested three men, ages, 35, 48, and 50. All were arrested at their homes in London, under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act.

Police said they had searched two of the residences, along with business addresses in the Wapping, Sutton and Chelsea neighborhoods.

Antiterrorism officers are leading the investigation, and police are working with phone companies in an effort to identify all of those whose conversations were tapped, they said.

Charles was the victim of an embarrassing eavesdropping effort in 1989, when he and his now-wife Camilla were recorded having a sexually explicit phone conversation while he was still married to Princess Diana.

The Sun tabloid later published the transcripts and also ran excerpts of a conversation between Diana and a man who affectionately called her "Squidgy."

The royals have also been at the center of a series of security lapses in recent years, one of which also involved a tabloid newspaper.

Daily Mirror reporter Ryan Parry got hired at Buckingham Palace as a royal footman in 2003, just before President Bush stayed at the palace.

In 2004, protesters dressed as Batman and Robin climbed onto a palace balcony.

© Copyright, St. Petersburg Times. All rights reserved.