Peston: NoW paid police for royal contact numbers

A royal protection officer was paid by the News of the World to hand over contact information for the Royal Family, according to BBC business correspondent Robert Peston.

Emails uncovered in 2007 after NoW royal editor Clive Goodman was arrested for phone-hacking – and later handed to the law firm Harbottle & Lewis – provide evidence the paper paid for contact details for the Royal Family, their friends and other connections.

The payments were allegedly made to a royal protection officer. According to Peston, the emails were handed to Scotland Yard on 20 June this year.

Speaking on the BBC he said: ‘This suggests that the security of the head of state was being compromised. It’s a remarkable story.’

Peston claimed the emails were ‘buried’and that a handful of senior executives in 2007 were aware of them.

When he was made aware of the existence of the emails, Ken Macdonald QC, the former Director of Public Prosecutions who is now acting for News Corporation, told the board to hand them over to police – Peston reports.

When informed of the new allegations at a press conference earlier this morning, Labour leader Ed Miliband said they ‘cast a further cloud over that organisation [News Corporation]’and made its BSkyB takeover bid ‘more and more untenable”.

UPDATE 11/7/11 1.44pm:

According to Peston’s blog, the emails “include requests by a reporter for sums of about £1,000 to pay police officers in the royal protection branch for the information”.

Peston claimed a source told him: “There was clear evidence from the emails that the security of the royal family was being put at risk. I was profoundly shocked when I saw them.”

“It is quite astonishing that these emails were not handed to the police for investigation when they were first found in 2007”, he added.

UPDATE 11/7/11 3.48pm:

The Met has released the following statement in response to the allegations – which were also repeated by the Evening Standard:

“It is our belief that information that has appeared in the media today is part of a deliberate campaign to undermine the investigation into the alleged payments by corrupt journalists to corrupt police officers and divert attention from elsewhere.

“At various meetings over the last few weeks information was shared with us by News International and their legal representatives and it was agreed by all parties that this information would be kept confidential so that we could pursue various lines of inquiry, identify those responsible without alerting them and secure best evidence.

“However we are extremely concerned and disappointed that the continuous release of selected information – that is only known by a small number of people – could have a significant impact on the corruption investigation.”

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