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Royal Roundup: Murdoch Tabloid Hired Private Eye to Spy on William
The News of the World hired a former policeman to covertly track more than 100 people, including Prince William and others connected to the royal family.
“They didn’t rumble me. They had no idea,” said Webb, who claimed his own “expertise,” which included training from MI5, allowed him to trail subjects who were “not aware that they were being followed.”
“This happened on quite a few occasions,” he said, “and I was able to realize then which royal protection officers were with which royal party.”
Webb tailed Prince William in 2006 when he and Kate Middleton were visiting Prince Charles’ home in Gloucestershire.
“Prince William came out with Kate followed by the royal protection vehicle,” Webb told Newsnight. “I followed the royal protection vehicle, knowing full well they were in front, and they ended up at Duchy Farm. The royal protection then peeled off, and I followed the royal protection around, knowing full well they’d go back there.”
Webb said that a News of the World journalist also asked him to get information about Prince Harry’s former girlfriend.
“He would ask me to go to Heathrow Airport to follow Chelsy Davy,” he said. “On a number of occasions she would be picked up and they would either go to Clarence House or she would go to an address out in Oxfordshire. And then I’d be monitoring them to see whether anything developed further.”
Webb said that he was given assignments by many News of the World reporters, including royal correspondent Clive Goodman, who was imprisoned in 2007 for phone hacking. But Webb insists he just followed up on leads and assignments he was given and that he never did anything illegal.
“I’ve never hacked a phone myself,” he said.
The list of his targets was huge, said the Newsnight’s Richard Watson, and, in addition to royals, included celebrities such as Paul McCartney, Simon Cowell and Angelina Jolie as well as politicians, including Lord Peter Goldsmith, then Britain’s attorney general.
At one point, Webb was even tasked with following the parents of Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe.
A News International spokesman would not comment on the latest allegations about the tabloid, which was shut down earlier this year amid the phone hacking allegations.
News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch and his son James, head of the company’s international division, testified before a parliamentary committee in July and denied knowledge of rampant phone hacking, but British lawmakers were skeptical of the testimony.
James Murdoch has been recalled to answer further questions from members of parliament on Thursday.
There have been previous reports of investigations into whether members of the royal family and their circle were the targets of phone hacking.