Hacking trial: Kate Middleton's phone 'hacked by News of the World', as court hears message revealing Prince William was ‘almost shot’
Jury hears for first time alleged details of hacking targeting future king and queen
James Cusick is political correspondent of The Independent and The Independent on Sunday. As an experienced member of the lobby, he has previously worked at The Sunday Times and the BBC. His career as a journalist has been split between print and television, including senior positions as producer with Sir David Frost and at BBC Newsnight. He is also an award-winning golf and travel writer, working for over a decade as the UK contributing editor for one of the USA’s leading golf magazines. He broadcasts regularly for the BBC and CNN. He lives in London.
Thursday 19 December 2013
Intimate voicemail messages left by Prince William for his then girlfriend Kate Middleton, in which he calls her “my little babykins”, and another joke message left for his brother Prince Harry calling him a “big hairy fat ginger”, were hacked by the News of the World, the Old Bailey heard on Thursday
Transcripts of the messages, sent when Prince William was undertaking officer training at Sandhurst, also revealed his embarrassment at being nearly hit by blank bullet rounds when he got “terribly lost” during an exercise in the woods.
“I’ve been running around the woods of Aldershot chasing shadows and getting terribly lost, and I walked into some other regiment’s ambush, which was slightly embarrassing because I nearly got shot. Not by live rounds but by blank rounds,” the Prince says.
The Duke, who met his future wife in 2003, spent almost all of 2006 at Sandhurst, passing out in December. The couple split up a year later, but shortly afterwards resumed their relationship and were engaged in 2010.
Emails read out in court by the lead prosecutor, Andrew Edis QC, are the first time evidence has been presented in a court allegedly linking the now defunct Rupert Murdoch-owned tabloid directly to the hacking of messages between members of the Royal Family.
The voicemails also contain allegations that Prince Harry bent Sandhurst’s rules by obtaining outside help for an academy essay, and that Prince William bypassed regulations on leaving the military academy to meet his girlfriend.
Although the transcripts have been held by Scotland Yard since 2006, they were not used during the trial in the same year of the NOTW’s royal correspondent, Clive Goodman, and the paper’s regularly commissioned private investigator, Glenn Mulcaire. Both were convicted in January 2007 of illegally hacking voicemails said to belong to members of the royal household, rather than the Royal Family themselves. Mr Mulcaire has already pleaded guilty to further hacking-relating charges. The jury was told of the stories which subsequently appeared in the NOTW, allegedly based on the hacked voicemails. The description of Prince William being nearly shot appeared in the “Blackadder” royal gossip column, edited by Mr Goodman. The court heard that prior to publication he sent an email to his senior editorial colleagues outlining the story.
The detail of a short message left at 5.34am, where William calls Kate “babykins”, appeared in the NOTW in February 2006 under the headline, “Wills wants the girl he calls ‘babykins’ to become his princess”.
In another message, William says “I’m going to try and go beagling again today” and that he might try to see Kate later. The message was discovered by police when they searched Mr Goodman’s house in 2006. The court was told that the plan to go “beagling” was mentioned in an email from Mr Goodman to his editor, Andy Coulson. The email was said to contain an evaluation that Prince William may find it difficult to carry out his plans because nobody is allowed leave during the initial weeks at Sandhurst.
The hacking of Prince Harry’s phone centred on a message where, according to the NOTW’s own account, William tried to impersonate his brother’s then girlfriend, Chelsy Davy. Assuming a falsetto voice, the male caller says: “Hi, it’s Chelsy here. I just want to say I miss you so much and I think you’re the most best looking ginger I’ve ever seen, although you really are quite ugly for a ginger.”
Mr Goodman and Mr Coulson face charges of bribing public officials. Mr Coulson, along with Rebekah Brooks, News International’s former chief executive, also faces charges of conspiracy to hack phones. Four others also face hacking relating charges. All deny the charges against them. The trial continues.
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