Video: 3 held for tapping royal family’s phone

updated 8/9/2006 5:48:21 PM ET 2006-08-09T21:48:21

An editor at a large British newspaper and another man were charged with conspiring to intercept phone messages Wednesday, as police investigate allegations of eavesdropping on officials working for Prince Charles.

Clive Goodman, 48, editor of the royalty section for the News of the World tabloid, and Glen Mulcaire, 35, are suspected of conspiring to intercept the messages on eight occasions between January and May, London’s Metropolitan Police said.

Both were released on bail and ordered to attend an Aug. 16 court hearing.

The two were arrested Tuesday, along with an unidentified 50-year-old man who was later released.

Police said their seven-month investigation began with complaints from the prince’s Clarence House office about intercepted messages. Authorities say the investigation has gone beyond Clarence House to include other public figures — though police have not provided specifics.

They say the phone intercepts may have compromised security around some public figures.

Charles’ office has declined to comment on the case.

Anti-terrorism officers are leading the investigation, and police say they are working with phone companies in an effort to identify all those whose conversations were intercepted.

Embarrassing eavesdropping in 1989
Eavesdropping is a sensitive issue for the royal family, as Charles was the victim of an embarrassing incident in 1989. The prince and his current wife, Camilla, were recorded having an explicit phone conversation while he was still married to Princess Diana.

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

Police said they did not believe the phones of any members of the royal family had been targeted.

The News of the World, the country’s biggest circulation paper, has been at the center of several embarrassing legal battles in recent months related to its aggressive pursuit of journalistic firsts.

A jury ruled earlier this month that the newspaper libeled a Scottish politician by claiming he took drugs and visited sex clubs, and awarded him $380,000. In another case, prosecutors dropped an investigation linked to the newspaper’s star investigative reporter when a witness testified he was paid for his story.

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 U.S. President George W. Bush stayed at the palace.

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

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