British royals' phones hacked

Ex-editor admits tapping voice mail

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LONDON -- The former royals editor of Rupert Murdoch's News of the World tabloid admitted Wednesday to a London court that he had repeatedly hacked the voice mails of Princes William and Harry, and Prince William's wife, Kate Middleton.

Clive Goodman, who was jailed in 2007 for illegally accessing voice mails on the mobile phones of royal aides, said he had hacked Queen Elizabeth II's grandsons almost a decade ago in search of stories while working at the now-defunct tabloid.

From late 2005 until his arrest the following year, Ms. Middleton's phone was hacked 155 times, despite her often changing the PIN number to access her voice mails, Prince William's was hacked 35 and Prince Harry's nine times, the court was told.

Mr. Goodman targeted Ms. Middleton, known as the Duchess of Cambridge since her marriage to Prince William three years ago, on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day in 2005. The last time was on Aug. 7, 2006, the day before police arrested Mr. Goodman.

Despite the regular hackings of the royals, Mr. Goodman said detectives had never before asked him about the tapping of the princes' phones, and it had not been publicly disclosed before the trial.

The Old Bailey jury has previously heard how recordings of the royals' messages had been discovered, including one in which Prince William called Kate "Babykins," but not who was responsible.

"I'm quite happy to get everything out there and in the open," Mr. Goodman told the court. "I don't want anyone to think I'm not ashamed of what we did."

Mr. Goodman and private detective Glenn Mulcaire, who worked for the paper, were jailed in January 2007, although the ex-royals editor's involvement was then said to have been limited to three aides to the princes. At the time, Mr. Murdoch's British newspaper arm News International said phone-hacking was limited to a "rogue reporter," but police reopened their investigation when new information emerged in 2011.

The subsequent scandal rocked the British establishment and led Mr. Murdoch to close the 168-year-old News of the World. Three of the paper's former news editors have admitted phone-hacking offenses.

Mr. Goodman, 56, is now on trial accused with the paper's former editor, Andy Coulson, later Prime Minister David Cameron's media chief, of authorizing illegal payments to police officers to obtain royal telephone directories.

Mr. Coulson and Rebekah Brooks, another former editor and later chief executive of Mr. Murdoch's British newspaper arm, are also on trial for phone-hacking offenses. They and four other defendants deny the charges.

Mr. Goodman had been absent from court since falling ill in March part-way through cross-examination from Mr. Coulson's lawyer, Timothy Langdale. In earlier testimony, he said Mr. Coulson had agreed on a project to fund a private detective to hack the phones of staff working for Princes William and Harry.

Asked why he was now admitting hacking the royals themselves, Mr. Goodman said he could speak freely, as the Crown Prosecution Service had made clear that he would not be facing any further action over hacking.


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