Sunday, May 24, 2009


Footage from the News of the World reporters' tour of the Palace - video courtesy News of the World

Buckingham Palace has said it is investigating allegations undercover reporters were given access to highly sensitive areas of the Palace.

Two reporters from the News of the World newspaper are said to have been waved inside, without security checks.

It is alleged one of them even sat in the Queen's state Bentley car.

According to the newspaper, chauffeur Brian Sirjusingh was paid £1,000 to give the reporters a tour. The Palace said it takes security very seriously.

BBC royal correspondent Peter Hunt said he understood Mr Sirjusingh was a pool chauffeur - one called when the dedicated royal chauffeurs are unavailable.

The News of the World reports the journalists posed as Middle Eastern businessmen and were waved into what were supposed to be secure areas of the Queen's home.

According to the paper, the men were led past a police checkpoint and a sign demanding to see identification, and into the royal garage.

Once inside, Mr Sirjusingh showed them several vehicles used by members of the royal family and allowed one reporter to sit in a Bentley used to transport the Queen on state occasions, the paper said.

A Scotland Yard spokesman said: "We are naturally concerned about the issues raised by this story and are liaising with palace officials about their staf security arrangements."

The newspaper's royal editor, Robert Jobson, told the BBC that lessons should have been learnt from previous security breaches.

He said: "There have been a number of security breaches at the palace over the years but this is right up there in terms of being a flagrant breach of the security.

"They should have been checked as they walked in but they weren't and therefore it could easily have been a terrorist walking into the palace and planting a bomb in the car rather than the News of the World exposing the poor security of the palace."

A Buckingham Palace spokeswoman said: "Any security matter is taken very seriously and we will look into these allegations."

In recent years there have been a number of high-profile royal security breaches.

In 2003, Daily Mirror reporter Ryan Parry spent two months working undercover as a Buckingham Palace footman.

He used a false reference to get the job despite unprecedented security surrounding the visit of US President George Bush to the UK.

The same year, during Prince William's 21st birthday, comedian Aaron Barschak set off six alarms and appeared on CCTV several times without sparking a response when he gatecrashed a party at Windsor Castle.

In 2004, a campaigner from the fathers' rights group, Fathers 4 Justice dressed as Batman and staged a protest on the Buckingham Palace balcony.

The News of the World's investigation was led by Mazher Mahmood, who has become known as the "fake sheikh" after a series of high-profile journalistic stings for the newspaper.

And as long ago as 1982, the Queen was confronted by an intruder, Michael Fagan, in her own bedroom.




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