[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Monday, 24 November, 2003, 12:53 GMT
How can Palace security be improved?
Buckingham Palace

Home Secretary David Blunkett has said that there will be a review of Buckingham Palace security following a lapse ahead of President Bush's visit.

The Security Commission, an independent body responsible for overseeing breaches of security, will carry out the review with a possible interim report by the end of the year.

This follows the revelation that Ryan Parry, an undercover reporter for the Daily Mirror worked for two months as a footman at the Palace after applying using a false reference.

Scotland Yard has put in place a 5m operation which has seen more than 5,000 police on the capital's streets for the state visit, while hundreds of armed US security staff are also guarding the president.

What can be done to improve the security of royal residences such as Buckingham Palace? Should the Royal Family consider a more intensive system such as that used by the American government?


The following comments reflect the balance of views we have received:

This debate is now closed. Read your comments below.

Your reaction:

This newspaper has betrayal the privacy of the Royal Family
Kish Kurt, USA
The report by the Mirror was a cheap stunt. There are more important things going on in the world right now: failing schools, hospitals, crime, terrorism, etc. This newspaper has betrayal the privacy of the Royal Family and that is unforgivable.
Kish Kurt, USA

Piers Morgan is right, this serious lapse needed to be brought to light. The "public service mentality" which appears to have set in at the Palace is not good enough. Good on you Mirror. Plus I for one as a royal supporter enjoyed seeing the many behind the scenes shots nobody would ever get to see.
Gary McQuade, Australia

This a cheap stunt to boost Mr.Morgan and his paper and to embarass the establishment at a critical and senstive time. It is another example of certain media who see fit to create rather than report news. How and when will we make such people accountable for their mischief?
Andrew R, UK

OK Ryan Parry's references were false, but who's to say that the security services who must have done a security check, didn't already know that he was, or had been a journalist. Unless you're suggesting that anyone who has ever worked as a journist is unsuitable for any security related job.
Tom Mason, UK

Who cares! I'm far more concerned that safety should be improved for the rest of us!
Gareth Thomas, London, England

This is beginning to get boring, it happens all the time, I think that the security procedures will only be overhauled once a real terrorist has infiltrated the palace, or similar, and caused some destruction. But really, should we actually bother about them, or should it be down to the Royals to sort their own problems out?
Ian, London

When they did the security checks I'm sure as someone without convictions or a terrorist background he was let in. However, had they put his name into google they would have come across it quite quickly in connection with investigative journalism.
Eric, UK

Have just read that the Palace is taking legal action against the Daily Mirror. At last, some common sense. This kind of reporting has gotten out of hand. We are forever publishing the "how to guide for terrorists" in our press. If it's not showing us how to get close to important people, it's showing us how to get on board an aircraft or how to evade customs. The first time a real terrorist successfully repeats what he has read, will our reporters feel vindicated or stupid?
David F, UK

What in the journalist's background would have precluded him from getting the job under any normal review of his suitability?
Oliver Ward, UK
What in the journalist's background would have precluded him from getting the job under any normal review of his suitability? He is not a known terrorist and he has no criminal record, people vouched for his good reputation (they lied), and now he has betrayed the trust of the people that employed him in good faith. Where is the story?
Oliver Ward, UK

Why don't the Royal Family just make better use of the Tower of London like previous monarchs. Just think of the increased tourism. You could have guest executioners, or if they wear hoods 'guess the executioner'. There would be new TV shows like "who wants to be an executioner". Gets my vote
Richard Philips, UK

Daily Mirror has just proved how low and desperate it is to raise its sales! What a pathetic game to play. Do we really care what the queen eats for breakfast. There are far more important things happening in this country that need media exposure! Crumbling Health and Education System, CSA Persecution, Immigrants in paid B&B, British citizens on the streets. Old age pensioners living in poverty, the list could go on. The costs surrounding Bush visit is disgusting, maybe this desperate newspaper should report on things that really matter.
Debbie, UK

The checks that were performed have not been revealed so the Mirror is only reporting the little bit it knows about. Does having 'journalist' on your CV automatically mean you'll fail? Probably not. And how far should security go? Everybody is capable of murder if they chose to do it, even the Queen. Should Bush have not stayed at the Palace because the Queen is a security risk? Royal Security has always been deliberately low key compared to the paranoid politicians, and long may it stay that way.
David Priddy, UK

So people think it's not an issue because the reporter "was of sound character with no previous convictions". People with that description often appear in our courts for their first offence. Any organisation seeking to cause harm is hardly likely to put forward a candidate known to the security services. The fact that somebody got through security is a genuine danger.

The press do these stunts to sell more papers, that is their job, no reason to abuse them. It only works for the press is they expose a genuine flaw - which would not happen if the authorities carried out similar tests for themselves. If you find this distasteful don't blame the papers, blame those who were not doing their jobs properly in the first place.
John, UK

How can security at the palace be improved? Close it down, sack the royals and sell off 'our' palace and castles to property developers, would be one solution!
Su, UK

This man should be on trial for treason - this is utterly ridiculous and completely oversteps any remaining boundaries in 'tasteful,' 'professional' journalism.
Jason Ho, London, UK

I think this article carries as much weight as the journalist infiltrating Cilla Blacks "Blind Date"
Mark A, UK
I think this article carries as much weight as the journalist infiltrating Cilla Blacks "Blind Date." Come on people, like a lot of people have said, there really wasn't any threat to the Royal Family or the president...That is unless you consider some foolish Mirror reporter a threat!
Mark A, UK Citizen now in US

I certainly feel that there is a need for tighter controls on those who actually works for Royals. I also feel that the Daily Mirror and Mr Piers Morgan owe the Queen, the government and the country an apology for embarrassing us in front of the world's media. What Piers Morgan and his paper have done was neither clever nor sensible and it smacks of revenge for the hammering they took over their stance during the Iraq war.
Paul Atkins, England

I was astonished to hear this morning of the 'security breach' at Buckingham Palace. What a cheap stunt by the newspaper involved! Do we think they truly had the safety of Her Majesty and President Bush at heart? I don't think so!
If they truly cared about the safety of The Queen and Mr Bush then why not send a report to Blunkett, Scotland Yard or Buckingham Palace? Instead they sensationally print their story and as if the text was not enough - they print images of The Queen's Private rooms!! Is that REALLY necessary?
Alan W. McBurnie, United Kingdom

Perhaps if the "powers-that-be" learned a lesson from this episode instead of immediately looking to take legal action against the perpetrators then situations like this would arise less often. It is nothing short of comical to think that a reference shouted across a bar is worth anything. To think that people need exhaustive criminal checks before they are granted supervised access to children yet the royal household can be reached by virtually anyone is incredible.
John B, UK

What a cheap stunt by the newspaper involved! Do we think they truly had the safety of Her Majesty and President Bush at heart? They have clearly seen the publicity Aaron Barschak received when he gate-crashed the party at Windsor Castle and his subsequent sell out of his show at the Edinburgh Festival after the incident. If they truly cared about the safety of The Queen and Mr Bush then why not send a report to David Blunkett, Scotland Yard or Buckingham Palace? I think that the Palace have every right to purse legal proceedings over this matter and make an example of this sensationalist activity.
Alan W. McBurnie, United Kingdom

Daily Mirror mega-scoop - yawn. Piers Morgan all over the TV - yawn. Mirror performs public service - yawn. Don't you realise that one bit of the media reporting on the activities of another bit of the media is a waste of time when there are much more important things going on in the world just now. Just to remind you of a few: Transport, Health, Education, Hutton, Middle East; debt; etc etc.
John R Smith, UK

I had heard that UK tabloids were ruthless when going after a story but they have exposed a breach in security measures. Perhaps the government security experts should take a page from the journalists and carry out their own subversive security "tests" from time to time.
Pamela, Canada

Another case of the media over-stepping the mark. The worst part is that they'll try and wrap it all up in the "we wanted to prove a point" package.... which by now we all know means "we wanted to sell more papers". Tiring, unhelpful and unwanted. If they wanted to be of more use, then why didn't dedicate the front page to Kyoto, Steel Exports and Guantanamo Bay?
Craig H, England

Palace security is good enough as it is
Stephen, Wales
Big deal! If Ryan had stolen some nuclear weapons then that would be a story. But he wasn't a known terrorist or someone with a criminal record so how would the authorities have known. Blown out of all proportion. Palace security is good enough as it is.
Stephen, Wales

I have read the article and it is written in a fairly reverential tone - more 'shock at the lapse' rather than 'wow, this is what I did'. It does send a clear signal to those in charge of security. However, it is a gross intrusion of privacy and an extreme waste of police time and money. If the newspaper is so interested in royal security, why didn't they just brief the police on the breach and leave it at that?
John, UK

The best security is when authorised persons don't know it's there and unauthorised can't bypass it. Maybe in this case the vetting passed so the journalist didn't know it had been done and was cleared.
Richard, UK

I could fit an alarm for about 30 if they're interested.
Russ, England

Mark H has hit the nail on the head. This so called "test of security" proved nothing - a genuine person, of good background, posing no threat to the palace got a job there. Where's the story in that? Are we now discriminating against journalists getting other Jobs? A true test would be someone with a false name and credentials trying to get the Job.
Mark Ashwell, Leicester, UK

In response to Mark H, I think you are missing the point. The fact is that one of Mr. Parry's "former jobs" was at the pub where they got an answer that "he is a good bloke". This means that anyone could have just given the name of a friend with a view to do something malicious. Yes it sells papers, yes it was not done with the best interest at heart, but it did unveil a security flaw.
Gabriel Asseily, UK

The checks on the reporter clearly showed one thing. That he was of very good character, without any subversive links or criminal history
Mark H, UK
Before everyone gets too hysterical I would like to point out the simple facts that are apparent to all who are intelligent enough to see them. The checks on the reporter clearly showed one thing. That he was of very good character, without any subversive links or criminal history.
They don't keep lists of who is and who isn't a reporter. The fact that his motives were less than honourable doesn't take away from the fact that, on paper, he was not actually a threat to security. In fact there are loyal and trusted Palace staff at this current time betraying their confidences to the press, so how on earth can you regulate that? Just remember that the Mirror is an anti-Royal, anti Police rag which wasn't doing this out of the goodness of its heart. It was a juicy story, designed to sell papers. Lets keep this in perspective.
Mark H, UK

Perhaps we could save some money for more important things by getting rid of current security efforts around an institution that is increasingly irrelevant.
Helen, UK citizen in the US

Did anyone think of doing a background check on GW Bush before he was allowed to meet the Queen? I think you will find that he has previously been arrested. Also previously had substance abuse problems, if he had applied for the job that the reporter had applied for in the palace would he have been recruited?
Sean O'Hagan, N Ireland

My theory is that the Palace did vet Mr Parry and, finding he was a tabloid journalist, believed he was trying to better himself by becoming a domestic servant.
Duncan Jeffery, UK

None of these potential terrorists seem to be taking advantage of these "gaps" in security
Carolyn, Scotland
Despite various "security breaches" by newspaper staff and protesters, the Royal Family and others have not come to any harm. I don't doubt we are in danger of attack from al-Qaeda or other terrorist organisations, but none of these potential terrorists seem to be taking advantage of these "gaps" in security. Just how much danger are the Royal Family and the general public really in and how much security do we actually need? The level of security for President Bush has been ridiculous.
Carolyn, Scotland

I cannot comment on whether Palace security is adequate - that's for the police and the Palace to sort out. However, there must be a charge we can make on the journalist, even if it is just wasting police time. I am fed up with journalists deliberately setting out to breach security at the Palace, in airports etc. just so they can write a sanctimonious article about how poor security is.
RF, England

Palace security is one of the most pressing and urgent tasks of the British police force, yet how is that the police fail to do an adequate job? How many breaches of palace security have there been in the past few years? On a day to day basis I see the police failing to police our streets, so major security problems should be placed in the hands of others more highly trained to deal with security problems in a professional and effective way.
P. Smith, England

I disagree with them showing pictures of where members of the royal family slept
Jenny Brown, UK
After reading some of the comment in the Daily Mirror I have to say I am disgusted. I understand the reason why they tested the security breech and I do feel that they had justification in printing the story however I disagree with them showing pictures of personal places of where the members of the royal family slept. I am not a fan of the royal family but if someone took photographs of my bedroom for the world to see, with my personal belongings showing I would feel violated. Was there any need for the Mirror to print these pictures, I think personally no, they told the story, but by doing that they made themselves to look like some sleazy rag with no morals whatsoever.
Jenny Brown, UK

It is my understanding that the majority of Royal males have successfully completed military training and occasionally seen active duty. So they already know how to fire a gun and kill a man with their bare hands - why not get them to defend Buckingham Palace themselves? I'm sure they could do a pretty good job.
Trina Flintstone, UK

The whole undercover reporter incident has been blown out of all proportion. The footman's job had to be filled by someone! Assuming that he doesn't have a criminal record, or that he's not got terrorist links, etc, surely he would be suitable? It just so happens that he was an undercover reporter, how is this worse than an existing employee exposing secrets to the media?
Mark Kasin, UK

Security checks don't check to see if you're a reporter, they check to see if you're a threat
David W, UK
Is it really a lapse? Security checks don't check to see if you're a reporter, they check to see if you're a threat. If nothing flagged up on his past to suggest he should be a problem, then he'd pass. If he really wanted to do a decent story, he should've racked up some travel to Iraq and Afghanistan beforehand and then seen how far he'd get. Being a UK citizen and getting a UK job, then writing about it for a UK newspaper doesn't really cut it as journalism any more does it...
David W, UK

The Home Secretary promised a review of security at Buckingham Palace after the Aaron Barschak incident. Clearly this hasn't happened. Mr Blunkett needs to accept responsibility for what is his jurisdiction. He should now resign.
Brendan Martin, UK

Ryan Parry should be up for treason - I am sick of the newspapers and the news hounds becoming the story.
Paul Day, Scotland

A positive vetting system would be far too intrusive, and, no doubt, scare off potential applicants for these posts. Perhaps service, or ex-service personnel should be the only people to be offered or permitted to apply for these posts, as they have a fully vetted history available? What also concerned me about the small mined 'Daily Mirror' stunt is, what happened to the genuine applicants who would have valued this highly prized job and who didn't lie about their credentials? Seems truly unfair to me. A good point, badly made. The only people who will suffer from this will be the Royal Family and their Staff.
Steve G, UK

If the Daily Mirror knew there was a problem (albeit of its own making)with security, why did it wait until the President had arrived to point it out. Surely the editor had a duty to inform the authorities earlier so that it could have been put right? What if someone else had slipped through the same way and harmed the President? Oh, yes, of course. A pathetic "scoop" is far more important. It's high time that self-regulated newspapers were brought to heel with a proper system of accountability.
Malcolm, England

The Royal Family finds it hard enough to be in touch with the people
William Dowell, UK
I think it is quite good that there is not the US-style security visibly seen around the Queen and her family. Do we really want her shielded into a "bubble"? The Royal Family finds it hard enough to be in touch with the people and that would just make it worse
William Dowell, UK

I would have had much more respect for Ryan Parry if he had managed to get inside Bush's team.
Andy McCormick, England

Whatever you do, don't base your security system on anything the American government does, not if you really want to be safe. Case in point. Walk through most American airports. You will find poorly trained, disinterested, and shabby looking individuals manning the checkpoints and x-ray machines. In fact we recently had an incident where a man was able to board/fly/disembark a commercial flight with concealed box cutters.
John Saxton, USA

The security clearance given to staff in the Royal Palaces once employed must also be urgently reviewed.
Andrew B, Hull, UK

I disagree 100% with Bush being in the UK, but perhaps some good has come out of his trip. We need to ensure that the pathetic security surrounding our Royal Family (remember Prince William's birthday party) is tightened. Our priority must be the safety, not just of our high-profile leaders, but of everyone in the UK.
Clive Williams, UK

Perhaps the Palace and Royal Family should be protected by and have security run by the British Secret Service - the way the Secret Service protect the President in the USA rather than the police who would then be free to protect us.
AJ, Scotland

Time and time again we are made to look like a joke
Simon Lim, UK
It is a blatant example yet again of holes in the system. After 9/11 reporters got onto planes and into cockpits with 'dangerous' objects. Recently the un-funny comedian got into a royal party to actually kiss the future the king of England. It's absolutely ludicrous! Time and time again we are made to look like a joke and it's continuing..
Simon Lim, UK

I suggest that the Palace servants are employed as civil servants and sign the Official Secrets Act.
Peter, UK

There are a lot of new technologies that are up and coming in the line of improving security - eye scans and the such like. Sadly it is a sign of the times that we live in a world where we can no longer trust someone to be who they say they are!
Carolyne, England

Board up the windows and weld the gates shut!
Gerry Noble, UK

All he did was complete an application whilst being economical with the truth
Peter, Scotland
I think that the current measures taken to vet applicants is probably sufficient at present. Did Ryan Parry manage to hide a string of criminal convictions? No, All he did was complete an application whilst being economical with the truth.
Peter, Scotland

Security around the Royal Family and the government should be more like the US presidents. There should be private planes like Air Force One for both the Queen and Prime Minister. As for the reporter - he should be arrested, or are journalists above the law in pursuit of a story?
Richard Speight, UK

It appears to me that security can be improved really easily - check references and do a background search!
Wendy, UK

Perhaps there is a use for Mr Blunkett's ID cards after all. The Palace should also sue anyone who makes a fraudulent job application.
Andrew Jago, Netherlands (Brit)

I couldn't agree more with Andrew Jago's views. Let's also stop all these journalistic stunts in the guise of public service! They are done to sell newspapers only, and waste everybody else's time into the bargain.
Terence H Coleman, UK

In these days when schools have to do lengthy tests to check the background of teachers, it's hardly difficult to do the same for palace servants.
Mark, UK




RELATED INTERNET LINKS:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific