Mystery over the origins of 'Dianagate' tapes deepens

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THE MYSTERY of the 'Dianagate' tapes - allegedly of the Princess of Wales talking on the telephone with a male admirer - deepened yesterday with claims that the recording was made by professionals.

As the Sun offered readers a telephone 'hotline' to hear the tapes, earning about pounds 30,000 from around 30,000 calls yesterday, the controversy shifted from authenticity towards how the recording was made.

Some electronics and surveillance experts said it would be a 'millions-to-one' chance if a radio ham, as claimed, accidentally tuned in to the conversation with a pounds 1,000 radio scanner and a 20ft garden aerial. They said the recording's high quality suggested a professional using top equipment, if the tapes were genuine.

Cyril Reenan, a retired bank manager of Abingdon, near Oxford, was named by some newspapers yesterday as having made the recording on New Year's Eve, 1989. He was reported to have subsequently realised its significance, and passed it to the Sun. The newspaper says it waited more than two years before disclosing the tapes this week.

Mr Reenan was not at home for comment yesterday.

In the tapes, a woman - said to be the Princess of Wales - discloses the 'torture' of her marriage, and talks in affectionate terms with a man. She makes an assignation with the man - unnamed in the tapes - who is using a car telephone.

The Sun and other tabloid newspapers today identify the man they claim is on the tape.

Coming so close to the scandal over photographs of the Duchess of York cavorting topless with her financial adviser, John Bryan, the allegation has placed unprecedented pressure on the Royal Family. Buckingham Palace has not dismissed the tapes as a hoax, saying only that there is no evidence they are genuine.

Legal experts said yesterday that it is not an offence to 'accidentally' overhear a telephone conversation. The Sun, which says it is giving the proceeds of the 'hotline' to charity, is not committing an offence by publishing them.

To monitor the conversation, the 'eavesdropper' would have had to be within five or ten miles of one of the mobile telephones. The Princess was at Sandringham in Norfolk.

If Mr Reenan made the recording, the male caller would have had to be sitting in a stationary car which, according to the tapes transcript he was, and be close to his scanner.