Publicity seekers to be tracked after royal blunder

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Publicity seekers are to be monitored by Scotland Yard's royal protection branch as part of a series of measures to prevent a repeat of the security blunder that allowed a comedian to gatecrash Prince William's 21st birthday party.

SAS soldiers may also be used to test the security at palaces and future royal events.

Sir John Stevens, the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, admitted yesterday that his officers had been taken by surprise by Aaron Barschak, the self-styled Comedy Terrorist. Mr Barschak, dressed as Osama bin Laden, was able to penetrate the security cordon at Windsor Castle and got on stage with Prince William.

As part of an overhaul of security, the Metropolitan Police will compile a database of publicity seekers, such as Mr Barschak, and other troublemakers who might attempt to get close to the Royal Family. The force already has files on stalkers and criminals who pose a potential threat.

Sir John said: "I have done a lot of work on serial killers and believe it or not they often start off as attention seekers."

He added: "For us in a post-September 11 environment, we cannot afford to take chances."

Before finding his way into Windsor Castle, Mr Barschak, who has carried out several stunts to publicise his alternative comedy act, posed for photographers and camera crews in full view of the police.

Sir John admitted: "We have got to be far more aware of incidents like Saturday where someone turns up outside and behaves in a strange way, we have to monitor their movements far more closely. The business of publicity seekers is quite frankly an area where we could have done more work."

He said in future his force's 400-strong royalty and diplomatic protection branches would undergo greater testing, including mock exercises in which people would try to penetrate the security cordon. Sir John said such exercises might include members of the SAS. "We have to test systems and individuals, quite frankly, far more rigorously than we have in the past."

In another new measure the Met will appoint a royal security co-ordinator to review police operations. It has already apologised for the "appalling security blunder" and David Blunkett, the Home Secretary, has warned that "heads are on the block" over the débâcle.

Asked if Commander Peter Loughborough, the 7th Earl of Rosslyn, who heads the royalty and diplomatic protection branches had offered his resignation, Sir John said he had not, adding: "And neither have I sought it."