MPs demand answers to mystery of Princess and phone calls

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SENIOR MPs yesterday called for an inquiry into the deepening mystery of how details of nuisance calls to a wealthy London art dealer - allegedly made by the Princess of Wales - were leaked to the press.

Scotland Yard refused to say whether it would hold such an inquiry. The calls were said to have been made by the Princess to Oliver Hoare, a 48-year-old married man, who is a friend of both the Princess and the Prince of Wales.

Sunday newspaper reports listed minute-by-minute calls which had allegedly been traced to the Princess's private line at Kensington, her mobile phone and the home of her sister, Lady Sarah McCorquodale. Mr Hoare was alleged to have withdrawn his complaint after finding out the source.

In an interview with the Daily Mail's royal correspondent, Richard Kay, published yesterday, the Princess was quoted as saying she had known nothing of the case until this weekend and adding: 'I feel I am being destroyed. There is absolutely no truth in it. They are trying to make out I had an affair with this man or had some kind of fatal attraction. It is simply untrue.'

Buckingham Palace would say only that the allegations in Sunday's News of the World were 'a matter for the police'.

Sir Ivan Lawrence, Conservative MP and chairman of the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee, said the police should investigate how such specific details became public. Sir Teddy Taylor, the Tory MP for Southend, said he especially wanted to know if cash was paid to any informant.

Lord McGregor, chairman of the Press Complaints Commission, said the News of the World had not breached the PCC code of practice. If police were responsible, it was for the Home Office or Scotland Yard to investigate.

Senior Tories with knowledge of the Royal Family reacted with a mixture of mystification and scepticism yesterday to a confident report in the London Evening Standard that a minister 'who knows Diana's family' intervened to stop the calls. The Home Office categorically denied that it had been involved and William Waldegrave, the Minister of Agriculture - and the focus of some earlier speculation - authorised his department to say he had not been concerned in any way.

Watchdog's blunder, page 3

The silent callers, page 18