Royal phonebooks ‘found at News of the World reporter’s house’

Among those whose numbers were listed in the directories were the Keeper of the Privy Purse, equerries, ladies-in-waiting, gentleman ushers, and the Swan Warden.

Note: This article is from the Guardian.


Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Royal phonebooks ‘found at News of the World reporter’s house’” was written by Nick Davies, for The Guardian on Wednesday 11th December 2013 00.21 UTC

Police took more than five years to warn Buckingham Palace that confidential directories with the royal family’s private phone numbers had been found in the home of the News of the World’s royal editor, Clive Goodman, the Old Bailey heard on Tuesday.

The jury in the phone-hacking trial was told that a total of 15 royal phone directories were found by police in August 2006 when they arrested Goodman and searched his home in Putney, south west London and it was not until January 2012 that Palace officials were informed. Since then, the number of directories in circulation had been “dramatically reduced”.

The disclosure came as the Crown began to present its case that Clive Goodman and his former editor, Andy Coulson, conspired to commit misconduct in public office by agreeing to pay Palace police officers to supply the directories. Both deny the charge. The evidence opened a door on the private world of Palace life.

The jury heard that among those whose numbers were listed in the directories were the Keeper of the Privy Purse, The Lord Warden of the Stannaries, equerries, ladies-in-waiting, gentleman ushers, extra gentleman ushers and the Swan Warden who proved to be a professor in Oxford.

Michelle Light, head of telephony for the royal family at Buckingham Palace, told the court that some 1,200 copies of a directory containing 2,000 phone numbers for royal staff would be produced by the Palace’s in-house printer.Seven of these with various dates were found in Goodman’s home. Light said she was not informed of this until January 2012.

Jonathan Spencer, deputy controller of The Lord Chamberlain’s office, said that some 900 copies of a “Green Book”, containing private numbers for the royal family and senior staff, would also be produced by the Palace printer. Each of these was marked “Restricted Document” on the front cover with a request that it “should be kept in a safe place and not shown to unauthorised persons. On receipt, please destroy your previous edition.”

They were not classified as secret, he said, but they were confidential. “We would never send it to an unauthorised person, nor would we want it to be in the possession of such a person.”

Eight Green Books, dated between August 1988 and October 2002, were found in Goodman’s home. Spencer said he was not told of this until November 2012.

Since being informed by police, he told the court, the Lord Chamblerlain had decided the Green Book should no longer be sent to external staff and sent only in smaller numbers to internal staff. “We have decided to reduce the distribution dramatically right across the piece,” he said.

One of the directories with staff extension numbers which was found at Goodman’s house was discovered to be carrying the fingerprint of a retired officer, Michael Godfrey, who told the court that he had often worked with a porter on the tradesman’s entrance of Windsor Castle, known as The Side Door, and that on night shifts, when the porter was not there, he would have used the directory to check on visitors’ credentials.

One of the Green Books found at Goodman’s home was found to carry the indented imprint of the signature of a second retired officer, Gregory Gillham, who had worked as a protection sergeant at Buckingham Palace. before becoming head of police operations at Kensington Palace.

He said the Green Book was kept secure, he would not expect to find one lying around, and that he would dispose of an old one by tearing it into quarters and throwing them into a confidential waste sack. “I worked for the royal household for a long time,” he said. “The protection of the royal family was paramount.”

It was not suggested that either officer had supplied Goodman with any directory. The trial continues.

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