The phones of Princes William and Harry may have been hack by News of the World reporters, a senior police officer said yesterday.
Detective Chief Superintendent Philip Williams, of the Metropolitan Police, revealed his suspicions to the Commons Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee.
Asked if he suspected that News of World journalists had hacked into the princes’ mobile phones, Williams replied: “Yes, I think they may well have done.”
In July, the force announced it would not conduct a new investigation into claims that thousands of public figures had their phones hacked into by News of the World reporters.
Responding to Williams’ claim, a News of the World spokeswoman said the paper “knows of no evidence to support this allegation and it was never part of or disclosed in the police investigation”.
That investigation ended with the jailing of the News of the World’s royal editor Clive Goodman in 2007 for plotting to hack into the telephone messages of royal aides.
Private investigator Glen Mulcaire was also sent to prison for his involvement in the affair.
Assistant Met Commissioner John Yates told the committee of MPs the police had seen no additional evidence since their last investigation.
Yates was asked during yesterday’s hearing if there would be an argument for a fresh look at the case if there were further allegations.
He said: “We have always said if fresh evidence was presented we would consider it, but no new evidence has come to light.”
The Guardian said in July that News Group Newspapers, which publishes titles including the News of the World, paid out more than £1 million to settle cases that threatened to reveal evidence of journalists’ alleged involvement in telephone hacking.
It alleged that police officers found evidence of News Group staff using private investigators who had hacked into “thousands” of mobile phones.
During yesterday’s hearing Williams was asked specifically if he suspected Goodman and Mulcaire had hacked into the princes’ phones and he replied: “Yes.”
He said: “The criminality was through their [the princes] private secretaries. So they’re [reporters] listening to their private secretaries’ voicemail, which has messages [from the princes] and other people.”
Later, asked again if the police had information which led them to believe that possibly the princes’ own phones had been targeted, Williams said: “Their voicemails may well have been intercepted.”
Williams said police had never been able to prove their suspicions – but pressed on whether there was solid information to lead police to suspect the princes’ personal phones had been hacked into, he said: “Yes.”