Staff in Buckingham Palace were unaware until 2012 that copies of sensitive internal telephone books were seized at a reporter’s home in 2006.
Note: This article is from the Guardian.
This article titled “Queen staff ‘not told royal phone books seized at NoW reporter’s home in 2006′” was written by Lisa O’Carroll and Caroline Davies, for theguardian.com on Tuesday 10th December 2013 18.26 UTC
The Queen’s staff responsible for maintaining contact details for senior members of the royal family were not told by police that copies of sensitive internal telephone books were seized at a News of the World’s reporter’s home in 2006, the Old Bailey has heard.
Staff in Buckingham Palace were unaware that the tabloid’s former royal editor, Clive Goodman, had 15 copies of the internal phone books until 2012, when they were asked for witness statements for the current trial of former News of the World staff.
The jury in the hacking trial heard on Tuesday there were two types of royal telephone directory, an internal one containing about 2,000 household extensions and the “green book”, which included telephone numbers and addresses for members of the royal family and members of the royal household, past and present.
Jonathan Spencer, deputy comptroller at the Lord Chamberlain’s office, who has oversight for the green books, told the court about 750 would normally be in circulation at all the royal residences – Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle, Kensington Palace, the Palace of Holyrood, Sandringham House and Balmoral. A further 13 copies were distributed to police in the royal protection offices.
The jury heard that 15 royal directories were seized from Goodman’s home in Putney, London in 2006. Seven of these were internal telephone directories and eight of them green books.
“Police had not told you they had found these in August 2006,” asked David Spens, QC, for Goodman. “No,” replied Spencer.
Since giving his witness statement to police in November 2012, Buckingham Palace “decided to reduce dramatically” the numbers in circulation, Spencer told the court.
A second royal staff member, Michelle Light, told the court she was responsible for the upkeep of the internal telephone directories. She was not aware that Goodman had the royal telephone books in his possession until she gave her witness statement in 2012.
The jury and Light were handed copies of one of the directories and asked to flick through them. The brief silence that ensued was interrupted by brief laughter when the judge, also looking through a copy of the directory, quipped “interesting titles: ‘royal pastry’”.
The jury were given a brief glimpse into the world of the royal palaces seeing lists of workers with job titles such as gentleman’s usher, swan warden and extra equerry and departments including royal box drivers and stud drivers.
One page of the internal telephone directory was shown on screen which included details for workers including equerries, the royal helicopter pilot, private personal secretaries for the royal princes and contact for the “swan warden”, who the judge noted was a professor who lived in Oxfordshire.
Goodman sat impassively in the dock alongside his former editor, Andy Coulson, throughout the afternoon.
Light said about 1,000 to 1,200 of the directories would have been printed at a time and confirmed there was no way of tracing the origin of one if it went missing.
The books were not numbered and there was no protocol in place in relation to destroying them when they were replaced by updated ones. About 800 to 900 were distributed and about 150 spares were kept locked away in her office.
She took charge of internal telephone directories in 2007 but told the jury she was not made aware that seven of them had been recovered in Goodman’s home.
Asked by Timonthy Langdale, counsel for Coulson, whether there was anyone ensuring “procedures were observed” in relation to return or destruction of directories, she replied “no”.
When asked by the prosecution whether Goodman was authorised to possess a copy of the directory, Light replied: “I would say not.”
Spencer and Light told the court that recipients of the books did not have to sign the official secrets act to receive the directories but they were security cleared and would be innately trusted.
“Not quite as specific as that, although we do say to recipients who will understand the sensitivities in this document and you should treat it as such,” said Light.
The court heard that the telephone number in the green book for Prince Phillip and the Prince of Wales was the switchboard number for Buckingham Palace.
Spens, counsel for Goodman, asked Spencer whether the green books were “secret or classified”.
He replied: “It is not coded or classified or secret, given that a lot of information is in the public domain such as the telephone number you referred to earlier.”
Goodman and Coulson are on trial for an alleged conspiracy to cause misconduct in public office, a charge which they have both denied.
Forensic tests on one 1993 internal directory seized at Goodman’s home identified the fingerprints of Michael Godfrey, a retired Metropolitan special operations officer who was then mainly based at Windsor Castle.
Godfrey told the court such directories were kept on the desk in the vestibule where he worked at the “tradesman’s entrance” at the castle.
Questioned by Spens, he said he did not know anyone called Clive Goodman and had never supplied him with a such a directory. The disposal of old directories was a matter for the royal household and not for police, he said.
An indentation of the signature of Gregory Gillham, another now retired officer, was found on a 1999 green book seized by police at Goodman’s address.
The jury was told the indentation was as if it has been used as support while signing something else. Gillham, who then mainly worked at Kensington Palace, but travelled to other royal residences, said the green book was “kept more securely” than the internal directory because of the more “intimate” information it contained.
Anyone needing it had to speak to a supervisor to get one. He had no memory of seeing a similar directory while working at Kensington Palace, he said.
The court heard that after the 2002 death of Princess Margaret, who lived at Kensington Palace, the Home Office reviewed security at the royal residence, and Metropolitan police security officers were brought in to replace regular police officers.
The trial continues
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