Duchess of York suspects she is victim of tabloid scandal

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The Independent Online

Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, suspects that her mobile-phone voicemails were hacked by tabloid reporters.

Prince Andrew's ex-wife is the latest high-profile figure to express concerns over the scandal. Her official spokesman said: "Like many other people, the Duchess of York suspects that her phone was hacked." The Duchess has not reported the matter to Scotland Yard, nor has she identified whom she suspects hacked her. Buckingham Palace declined to comment.

The Duchess's concerns echo those of Prince William, who contacted police in 2005 after personal information on mobile-phone messages began appearing in the News of the World (NotW).

Its royal editor, Clive Goodman, and a private investigator paid £100,000-ayear by the paper, Glenn Mulcaire, were jailed in 2007 for illegally accessing voicemails.

The Duchess's fears indicate that hacking of members of the royal circle may have been more widespread than previously known. It also raises potential security concerns since Prince Andrew, with whom the Duchess is said to be on good terms, is fourth in line to the throne, and their children, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie are fifth and sixth in the succession.

The trials and tribulations of the Duchess have been a source of many stories for newspapers over the years.

Last May she was caught on camera by the NotW offering to arrange access to Prince Andrew for £500,000. There is no suggestion that voicemail hacking was used to obtain the story.Dickie Arbiter, a former press secretary to The Queen, said he did not believe the Duchess's messages would have contained valuable information.

"Voicemails are usually pretty innocuous, unless the person is an idiot,"he said.