Party gatecrasher was the second lapse in royal security in six months, report reveals

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The Independent Online

An intruder walked past three armed officers at St James's Palace six months before a comedian gatecrashed Prince William's 21st birthday party at Windsor Castle, it was revealed yesterday.

News of the blunder at the London home of Prince Charles last December came as police published a report into the Windsor debacle that found security at the castle was a shambles. Royal protection officers also failed to prevent the comedian Aaron Barschak, dressed as Osama bin Laden, getting into a royal party despite setting off seven alarms and being filmed on at least five surveillance cameras.

A lack of supervision, poor planning, and a complacent attitude by protection officers, combined to allow what Sir John Stevens, the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, admitted was a "devastating" security lapse.

But the Met's embarrassment was further compounded at the disclosure there had been a serious breach six months before. In the first event, a man who was apparently lost wandered through up to three security check points at St James's Palace just before midnight on 11 December. Three police constables on guard did nothing to prevent the drunk intruder from getting into the grounds of the palace, where he was eventually detained and later released without charge.

All three officers were punished for misconduct, with one being removed from the Met's royal protection unit, while other two were given verbal warnings and retraining. The two supervising officers, a sergeant and an inspector, were issued with written warnings and moved from royal protection duties.

The Palace, along with all the royal households will now undergo a security review.

The inquiry, published yesterday, found police failed to respond to the alarms which went off in their control room and also did not act when Mr Barschak was caught on CCTV climbing over the castle wall and wandering around inside on 21 June.

The entire Royal Family - apart from Prince Edward - and 200 guests were present as the comedian interrupted Prince William and made a speech on stage. On his way into the castle Mr Barschak scaled an embankment, climbed two trees and hoisted himself over a wall before being found by a contractor who thought he was a guest.

Commander Frank Armstrong, of City of London Police, who carried out the inquiry, said a single beat officer patrolling the wall would have been enough to have prevented the breach.

Mr Armstrong said: "Conditions in the control room at Windsor were totally inadequate." He also criticised the planning for the party saying it was "too little too late".

The guest list had only been given to police by the Prince of Wales' household on the day because there were worries about confidentiality.

CATALOGUE OF BLUNDERS

The series of errors that allowed Aaron Barschak to gatecrash the Windsor Castle party on 21 June.

20.10: Barschak, wearing an Osama bin Laden costume outside the castle gates, is moved on by a police officer.

21.47: Barschak scales the castle wall.

22.04: Barschak activates an alarm and climbs over a gate.

22.41: Barschak activates another alarm.

22.43: Barschak activates an alarm, which is reset. It is then reactivated almost immediately.

22.44: Barschak activates another alarm and is recorded on CCTV.

22.46: Barschak tells a contractor he is a lost guest. The contractor offers to assist.

22.49: Barschak and the contractor reactivate an alarm and are recorded on CCTV.

22.55: Barschak and the contractor approach PC Nigel Haspineall. Barschak is then taken to an entrance to the party.

23.00: Barschak enters the dining area where Prince William is speaking and interrupts him.

23.05: Barschak is challenged. Police are summoned; Barschak is then detained and taken to a side door.

23.23: Barschak is arrested.

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