Police investigating illegal payments from journalists to public officials are contacting a number of high-profile suspected targets, including the Duchess of Cambridge and Paul Gascoigne it has been reported.
Detectives from Scotland Yard’s Operation Elveden are in the process of contacting 419 targets, many of whom could be in line to sue newspaper publishers if it is found that stories about them were a result of illegal payments.
According to the Guardian, among those contacted are the Duchess of Cambridge, ex-footballer Gascoigne and Yorkshire Ripper Pete Sutcliffe. Other possible targets include Zara Phillips, Ian Brady, Jon Venables, Rolling Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood, the mother of Chelses captain John Terry and the family of 15-year-old Isobel Reilly, who died of a drugs overdose.
Princes William and Harry could also be among those being contacted after Press Gazette revealed last month that they were being lined up as potential witnesses in the trial of The Sun’s royal correspondent Duncan Larcombe, who is accused of paying an army officer for stories about them.
Scotland Yard would not comment on any individuals named but confirmed that efforts were being made to contact everyone suspected of being a target.
Neil Basu, the Metropolitan Police officer in charge of Operation Elveden and the connected operations Weeting and Tuleta, told MPs at a Commons select committee that more arrests over corrupt payments were likely in the coming weeks.
At least 70 journalists, police officers and other public officials have been arrested under Operation Elveden since 2011. Last week, The Sun’s head of news Chris Pharo became the 10th journalist from that paper alone to be charged as a result of the operation.