BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Thursday, 28 February 2008, 16:48 GMT
GCHQ 'did not tap Diana's phone'
Princess Diana
The "Squidgygate" tapes were not made by GCHQ
Princess Diana's phone was not bugged and permission was not sought to do so, the ex-head of the UK electronic intelligence agency GCHQ has said.

Sir John Adye told her inquest that GCHQ had not been involved in producing the "Squidgygate" and "Camillagate" tapes of conversations between royals.

He said that a warrant signed by the foreign secretary would have been required in order to bug royal phones.

He also said it was not within the scope of GCHQ to bug the Royal Family.

'Unprecedented' move

Ian Burnett, counsel for the coroner, asked Sir John if it was GCHQ's function to intercept members of the Royal Family to gain intelligence for the government.

"Indeed it was not," replied Sir John, who was the director of the agency from 1989 to 1996.

In an "unprecedented" move, given the nature of the service's operations, a statement by GCHQ denied any involvement.

Sir John referred to a press release from January 1993 which said: "The heads of all the security and intelligence agencies have given categorical assurances denying any involvement in intercepting, recording or disclosing telephone calls involving members of the Royal Family." The court was told that ministers had been briefed so they could "truthfully" tell Parliament that "none of the security and intelligence agencies had been intercepting the communications of the Royal Family".

Squidgygate tape

Sir John told the inquest he was "satisfied" that GCHQ had not been responsible for the taping of a conversation between Diana and former lover James Gilbey, or another between the Prince of Wales and Camilla Parker Bowles.

In the tape of Diana and James Gilbey, he referred to her as "Squidgy" and repeatedly told her he loved her. The recording came to light in the early 1990s.

John Major, then prime minister, said in written statement at the time: "There is no substance in the rumours about the involvement of the security and intelligence agencies intercepting the communications of the Royal Family".

Sir John Adye agreed with Michael Mansfield QC, counsel for Mohamed al Fayed, that there was a "strong possibility" both tape recordings had been made as a result of criminal activity.

The inquest heard evidence that a phone line at a house where the Prince of Wales had been staying had been tampered with.

Sir John said he did not know who had discovered the tampering.

He was asked by Mr Mansfield whether a check had been carried out on the landline at Sandringham, the Queen's Norfolk residence.

"I don't know, but I think it was likely there was," replied Sir John, adding that security at Sandringham was the responsibility of the police and possibly the security services.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific