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Last Updated: Thursday, 6 May, 2004, 10:21 GMT 11:21 UK
New royal security boss appointed
Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace will beef up security measures
Buckingham Palace has announced a new director of security, Brigadier Jeffrey Cook, to oversee the co-ordination and royal protection and vetting of staff.

The decision pre-empted the main recommendation of a security review, which said the post should be created.

The security review was ordered after Daily Mirror journalist Ryan Parry was able to get a job as royal footman.

He said no rigorous security checks were made on his background before he gained close access to the royals.

The security report also recommends a general tightening of the procedure for job applications and staff vetting at the palace.

The Independent Security Commission, led by senior judge Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss, said the new royal security boss should oversee an annual security plan and ensure wider checks on those applying for jobs or visiting palaces.

New security plans should have an annual internal review, as well as occasional external testing to make sure it is still watertight.

Buckingham Palace has accepted there were lessons to be learned from this case

The commission's report said the most likely threat of infiltration of the Royal Family came from journalists and other people wanting to "test' security measures or to cause embarrassment.

But it said any weaknesses that a journalist could find could also be used by terrorists to gain access to the royals.

And it followed that there should be a more coherent personnel security approach for all royal households, with permanent staff, guests, visitors and especially contracted staff all carefully vetted.

The report said the palace's handling of the reporter's job application could be criticised over minor faults.

And while the case did not reveal basic problems in how the royal household followed its established recruitment procedures, it showed existing procedures were not sufficient to expose a fraudulent and dishonest job application.

Mr Parry managed to infiltrate the royal household last year, after he had his background checked by the personnel officer at Buckingham Palace.

He claimed he was given the chance to get close enough to the Queen to have poisoned her.

An internet search would have revealed that he was a tabloid journalist who had conducted an undercover investigation the previous year.

Instead a palace employee telephoned a pub in north Wales where Mr Parry had once worked.

But when bar staff said they did not recognise his name, the officer relied on a regular who happened to be drinking there at the time who vouched for Mr Parry.

The BBC's Nicholas Witchell
"Two incidents in particular revealed the security deficiencies"

Q&A: Royal security breach
20 Nov 03  |  UK

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