On 8 August 2006, the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) raided and arrested Clive Goodman and Glenn Mulcaire. Amongst documents seized from Goodman were 15 Royal contact directories.
Exactly HOW they came to be in Goodman’s possession wil not be addressed here. That is the subject of a forthcoming trial and is therefore under Contempt of Court restrictions. There will explicitly be no speculation on that.
It is however an agreed fact that the 15 Royal directories were seized on 8 August 2006 so were part of the Operation Caryatid documents.
In and of themselves – setting aside anything else confiscated in relation to phone hacking – these 15 Royal directories had enormous potential to cause reputational damage to the MPS. But they were not used in evidence in the prosecutions of Goodman and Mulcaire in 2006, and they were not mentioned in any subsequent MPS press releases, reviews, ‘establishing of facts’, evidence to Select Committees or public evidence to the Leveson Inquiry. They only became public knowledge during the 2013-14 Old Bailey Trial 1.
This post will take a critical look at who perhaps had most to gain from ensuring the Royal directories did not see the light of day for the intervening seven years. Even before MPS corporate reputation was put at risk, whose personal and professional embarassment was at stake? And why?
The Royal directories are of two types. The ‘internal’ directories comprised contact details for a wide range of people in the Royal household; the ‘Green Book’ directories carried more sensitive contct details of Royals and their senior household staff and thus were ‘Restricted’. Both were updated once or twice a year and distributed under conditions of confidentiality – outdated versions were supposed to be safely detroyed. The directories seized were from around mid-90s to 2005.
Operation Caraytid was undertaken by MPS Specialist Operations because of the national security concerns raised by phone hacking of Royal household members. Specialist Operations (SO) was responsible for Counter Terrorism and allied matters, including Royal protection. Caryatid was tasked under the direction of Deputy Assistant Commissioner PETER CLARKE, who was also ACPO National Coordinator for Terrorist Investigations. As such, CLARKE would be acutely aware of the fallout for those senior MPS officers responsible for Royal Protection during the period that sensitive information in copies of the Royal directories went missing, that is from c.1993-2006.
There is no doubt that CLARKE kept the parameters of Caryatid very sharply focused. The repercussions of limiting the investigation to a tiny group of victims, and a very narrow interpretation of RIPA have been well covered. This also though had the convenient effect of ruling out any alternative charges and charging strategy that would involve those embarassing 15 Royal directories.
Phone hacking, phone hacking, phone hacking…
From that point, every unwelcome bit of attention exclusively emphasized ‘phone hacking’ and unwelcome scrutiny was re-directed away from the Royal directories. Conveniently, they were not part of the ‘Mulcaire Notes’, they were not necessary for prosecuting RIPA or the interception of voicemail messages, they did not have to be exhibited in open court. Whether deliberate strategy or not, the net effect of the direction of Caryatid ensured that the Royal directories could remain buried – like the ‘for Neville’ email, in a bin bag which the written schedule of unused evidence described unhelpfully as “item WAB/107, black bin bag containing various notepads”. (here)
Royal Protection – Nineties and Noughties
Operation Nigeria was a covert investigation into police corruption, undertaken by anti-corruption command (CIB3), and involved the bugging of private investigators Southern Investigations. The covert recordings included captured information on the leaking to the press of stories about the Royal family and household by Palace cops.
One conversation caught on tape allegedly concerned a Royal protection officer discovered taking steroids:
“If your mate just gives us the bird he was shagging – was she a bird in Buckingham Palace?”
“Yeah, I’ll get a little bit more out of him.”
Has the bloke been suspended?”
“No, he had his pink certificate (firearms authorisation) taken away.”
“I thought he went sick.”
“I don’t know. Shall I find out more?”
Yeah, especially if he went sick, but especially shagging the women in there.”
“It doesn’t make him a bad person.”
“No, no. He’s a good man… He can join our gang any time.”
In another phone conversation a few days later the same private investigator – one of the owners of Southern Investigations – told the caller about the “super stud” police officer at Buckingham Palace and that he injected steroids. There was discussion about how much money they could get for the story which shortly appeared in a tabloid newspaper.
When it became known in CIB3 and the MPS Professional Standards that elite Royal Protection officers could be involved in corruption with suspect private investigators and the red tops, it must have caused consternation and red faces. But for who, exactly? Who was in which relevant post, and when?
The officer in charge of CIB3′s Operation Nigeria was JOHN YATES reporting to Professional Standards head ANDY HAYMAN, and the Head of Royal and Diplomatic Protection at the time was PETER CLARKE. Each of them later were arguably in positions to influence actions and inactions related to Operation Caryatid.
By 2001, working together at MPS Personnel Department were BERNARD HOGAN-HOWE, PETER CLARKE, and PETER LOUGHBOROUGH. (here)
Throughout his MPS career, PETER LOUGHBOROUGH was the only serving police officer to sit in the House of Lords as he is an hereditary peer, the 7th Earl of Rosslyn.
In 2002, DAC PETER CLARKE joined Specialist Operations, Counter Terrorism. In 2003, Commander PETER LOUGHBOROUGH joined him in moving as Head of Royalty and Diplomatic Protection, also in Specialist Operations. In 2005, ANDY HAYMAN was appointed Assistant Commissioner Specialist Operations (ACSO) with command responsibility for both Counter Terrorism and Royal Protection.
In December 2005, PETER LOUGHBOROUGH approached PETER CLARKE with suspicions that a serious national security breach was possible through the suspected hacking of the mobile phones of Prince William, Prince Harry and other senior Royals. January 2006, Operation Caryatid commenced. The covert investigation was retained within Specialist Operations under ANDY HAYMAN, PETER CLARKE, and PETER LOUGHBOROUGH. All three would have realised that the personal reputational damage they faced, individually and collectively, as all three at some point had had operational responsibility for Royal Protection. PETER CLARKE drew up the parameters for the investigation of phone hacking offences only, progressed solely on technical data – supposedly to avoid the Royal princes having to give evidence in court.
But whose embarrassment was really being evaded?
Once the Operation Caryatid arrests had secured the material, there was an opportunity to review operational priorities, decision logs and to follow additional leads based on the evidence. Instead, “in the early autumn of 2006, a month or two after arresting Goodman and Mulcaire, they had closed down Operation Caryatid without completing the investigation. The precise date when they did this is not known: they made no record of the decision nor of their justification for doing so.” (Nick Davies, Hack Attack, chapter 6)
That decision was made by PETER CLARKE who explained to the Leveson Inquiry, “It may be uncommon for a Deputy Assistant Commissioner to have such direct influence on an investigation, but that was the nature of the counter terrorism command”
By 2009, having resigned the MPS, ANDY HAYMAN was a well paid regular columnist for Murdoch’s The Times. PETER CLARKE, after retiring from the MPS with his reputation intact, became a non-executive director of the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA). JOHN YATES had been promoted to Assistant Commissioner Specialist Operations (ACSO).
On July 9th 2009, YATES was asked by the MPS Commissioner to ‘establish the facts’ regarding a Guardian story challenging the one-rogue-reporter and only-a-handful-of-victims narratives propounded by News International and the MPS respectively. YATES said, “This case has been subject of the most careful investigation by very experienced detectives. It has also been scrutinised in detail by both the CPS and leading Counsel. They have carefully examined all the evidence and prepared the indictments that they considered appropriate. No additional evidence has come to light since this case has concluded. I therefore consider that no further investigation is required.”
Such a pity that YATES wasn’t aware of accusations made at Southwark Crown Court only a week before. It was alleged (in an unrelated prosecution) that the MPS Royal Protection division had quite a history of covering up incidents which would have caused them reputational embarrassment. One of the allegations might have jogged JOHN YATES’ memory. Paul Page, a Royal protection officer, defended himself and cross-examined his Royal Protection supervisor:
Page claimed officers under Mr Prentice’s command had alcohol addictions and carried guns without the correct legal documentation. Page alleged one of the officers had been arrested for drink driving whilst another, who was on steroids, was banned from carrying firearms only to be moved to a department where he had access to weapons such as 9mm pistols and machine guns…The witness admitted ‘probably’ having banned an officer from carrying a firearm after it was found he had been taking steroids.
YATES’ perfunctory, self-confessed “crap decision” not to re-open the original investigation was made without recourse to disturbing the cobwebs on the Caryatid bin bags But a little later, on 22nd July, YATES directed “that the Operation Caryatid material was scanned onto ALTIA in its entirety and fully documented and indexed on a secure HOLMES account as a matter of priority. This in itself was a highly resource intensive exercise which would take about 10 police officers and staff 3 months working longer than average days to complete. The cost of this was nearly £200,000.” (here)
It is regrettable, given the belated expense and investigative rigour, how those sensitive 15 Royal directories failed to be brought to the attention of Parliament or to the Leveson Inquiry. Nor – at any time from their seizure by Caryatid in August 2006 – were Palace staff or Lord Chamberlain’s office informed by the MPS until 2012.
Clearly the MPS still have many questions to answer about Operaton Caryatid.
ANDY HAYMAN is now owner-director of Security Foresight Limited
JOHN YATES is currently Head of Security for retail group Westfield, Australia
PETER LOUGHBOROUGH, Earl of Rosslyn, is now Master of the Household of the Prince of Wales. (here)
PETER CLARKE is Senior Advisor to Olive Group on Policing, Special Events, Critical National Infrastructure Protection, Crisis Management and Counter-Terrorism. CLARKE is a Member of the Advisory Council of right-wing think tank Policy Exchange. In April 2014, CLARKE was contentiously appointed by Policy Exchange founder Michael Gove to undertake an investigation into 25 Birmingham schools allegedly taken over by hard-line Islamists in a ‘Trojan Horse’ plot.
This post originally appeared on Bellingcat, the new website by and for citizen investigative journalists. It is currently being Kickstarted! Support development by contributing here.
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