Royal phone hacker jailed for 4 months

Editor of the News of the World resigns after royal reporter sentenced for telephone interception

The News of the World‘s royal affairs editor was jailed for four months today for hacking into the mobile telephones of members of the royal household “several hundred” times.

Clive Goodman, 49, had listened to voicemail messages left for the press secretary Prince Charles and also for two officials who worked for his sons, princes William and Harry. A private investigator, Glenn Mulcaire, 36, was given a six-month prison term.

After the two were sentenced, News of the World editor Andy Coulson resigned, saying he took “ultimate responsibility.”

“His actions were entirely wrong and I deeply regret that they happened on my watch,” he said in a statement.

“When The News of the World calls those in public life to account on behalf of its readers, it must have its own house in order,” he added.

Goodman and Mulcaire pleaded guilty last November to unlawfully intercepting communications while Mulcaire also pleaded guilty to five other charges of unlawfully intercepting voicemail messages.

At a hearing at the Old Bailey in London today the court was told that the pair had begun a “relatively sophisticated” scheme to bug Charles’s Clarence House residence in London in December 2005.

Sentencing the defendants, the judge, Mr Justice Gross said: “This was low conduct, reprehensible in the extreme.”

“This case is not about press freedom. It is about grave, inexcusable and illegal invasion of privacy. The targets were members of the royal family. The royal family holds a unique position in the life of this country. It is grave indeed.”

Paul Horrocks, President of the Society of Editors, condemned the offence afterwards and said: “We do not believe that it is a widespread practice.”

“The public should remember that one bad apple does not mean the whole barrel is rotten,” he said in a statement. “Everyone has a right to privacy and the media is not interested in invading the privacy of ordinary people,” he added.

The scam was uncovered after minor stories appearing about the princes aroused suspicion in the royal household and staff became concerned their phones were being monitored.

The paper suspended Goodman after he was charged last August and he apologised to Prince Charles and his sons for a “gross invasion of privacy”.