An intruder arrested at Windsor Castle is to be questioned about hoax calls made by a man claiming to be a senior police officer. On Monday, the 35-year-old man managed to get into the Queen's Berkshire residence, with a female companion, by allegedly saying he was Detective Superintendent Simon Morgan, who is leading the hunt for Britain's most prolific sex attacker.
Det Supt Morgan is leading Operation Minstead, seeking the man who has raped and assaulted more than 80 women, including pensioners, over the past 12 years. But, during the past month, a man claiming to be him has tried to send officers out on bogus raids, even demanding the assistance of armed police at one point.
Last night, a Scotland Yard source confirmed that they were investigating whether the intruder had links to the hoax calls. The man was arrested and charged with impersonating an officer and he and his companion were accused of deception.
He was under guard in hospital last night after complaining of feeling ill; the woman was believed to be at a London police station. The pair were said to have spent less than an hour at the castle after he got through a gate. Security guards said they noticed them acting suspiciously. When approached, it is believed the man again claimed he was Det Supt Morgan but his deception was discovered.
A police spokesman said yesterday: "Although full CCTV of the area is still being examined, initial viewing of the footage shows that the couple were not near the private quarters and only accessed areas open to paying members of the public,"
The Queen had been at the castle that morning but left five hours before the incident. But a police source conceded that they were investigating a possible link with the hoaxer, who has called four separate forces. Some time after a DNA breakthrough in the Operation Minstead case was publicised at the end of April, officers began receiving calls from a man claiming to be the detective superintendent.
It is understood that he called for urgent assistance at the City of London airport, requested a firearms team in Kent and may also have called the Essex force. While the calls were initially taken seriously, it is believed they were found to be false before any officers were deployed.
"Officers from the Metropolitan Directorate of Professional Standards Specialist Investigation Unit are investigating a male who has been contacting police forces in London and the South purporting to be a senior MPS officer," a Scotland Yard spokesman said last night.
"There have been a number of incidents of this type in May 2004. Inquiries are continuing."
There is no suggestion the man being questioned yesterday could be the sex attacker.
The latest arrest has renewed calls for a shake-up of royal security. David Davis, the shadow Home Secretary, said: "It beggars belief that within a year, we have a third major breach of palace security, which comes almost immediately after the appointment of Brigadier Jeffrey Cook as head of royal security and after an extensive and expensive security review."
The alert at Windsor Castle comes just 12 days after a high-level report, welcomed by Buckingham Palace, recommended better protection for the royals. The Security Commission suggested wider checks on job applicants, guests, visitors and contractors with access to royal residences. Weaknesses exploited by the press could be equally abused by terrorists, it warned. The shake-up followed the breach of security by Daily Mirror reporter Ryan Parry, who got a job as a palace servant ahead of US President George Bush's state visit.
An investigation was also launched last year after the "comedy terrorist" Aaron Barschak gatecrashed Prince William's 21st birthday party at Windsor Castle.
ROYALS SECURITY BREACHES
2003: Daily Mirror reporter Ryan Parry got a job as a Buckingham Palace servant allowing him to enter the Royal Family's private apartments.
2003: Self-proclaimed "comedy terrorist" Aaron Barschak gatecrashed Prince William's 21st birthday party at Windsor Castle, climbed on stage and kissed the prince on both cheeks.
1995: Student John Gillard rammed the Palace gates in his car at 50mph, tearing one off its hinges.
1994: A naked American paraglider, James Miller, landed on the roof of Buckingham Palace. He was fined £200 and deported.
1992: Kevin McMahon, 25, was arrested inside the grounds of Buckingham Palace twice in a week. During his first sortie, he forced a helicopter carrying the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh to divert as he roamed the grounds.
1990: Stephen Goulding jailed for three months after breaking into the grounds of Buckingham Palace in 1990. He claimed he was Prince Andrew Windsor and declared the Queen was his "mum".
1982: Michael Fagan broke into the Queen's bedroom at Buckingham Palace. She woke to find him sitting on her bed.
1981: Marcus Sarjeant, 17, fired six blank shots at the Queen at the Trooping the Colour ceremony.