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Last Updated: Thursday, 20 November, 2003, 16:57 GMT
Q&A: Royal security breach
Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace was targeted by the Mirror
The Royal Household has announced plans to take legal action against a reporter who exposed security flaws at Buckingham Palace.

The Daily Mirror's Ryan Parry and the newspaper will be sued for breaching the confidence he owes the palace as his former employer, it says.

BBC correspondent Danny Shaw examines the broader implications of the media expose for the Palace.

Q: How embarrassing is this expose for the police and the Palace?

A: It is clearly an embarrassment, though officially those in authority may deny it. It appears that the police and the Security Service, MI5, did what they had to do in checking whether the reporter had a criminal record (he did not) or was involved in terrorism (he was not). However, the general employment checks - carried out by Buckingham Palace - were clearly not robust enough because they did not uncover Ryan Parry's true profession. According to him, one of the references was verified in a phone call to a pub - that is the most embarrassing revelation of them all.

Q: Are the Royals likely to change their approach to security?

A: In the short-term there will be tighter security and the credentials of those who are already employed are likely to be re-checked. People applying for posts can also expect more thorough checks. In the longer term, the Royal family will probably implement any changes recommended by the Security Commission, who have been asked by the Government to review procedures. New searching procedures may also be introduced, even for those who have been security checked and cleared.

Q: What changes were made after the Windsor breach?

A: Overall security was tightened, but some of the 28 recommendations made in a report on what happened - by Commander Frank Armstrong of the City of London police - will take some time to implement. He called for improvements in the working conditions, training and resources in the police control room at Windsor, which he found to be "wholly inadequate".

Q: Why are vetting procedures split between the Palace and the police?

A: The Royal Family - like any institution - needs to have some control over who is appointed to positions within the Royal Household but because protecting the Royals is a vital component of that procedure it falls to the police and the Security Service, MI5, to carry out the necessary security checks.

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