Prince William was tailed and spied on by British tabloid the News of the World, according to the surveillance expert hired by the shuttered newspaper.
Derek Webb, the retired cop and surveillance expert hired by the Rupert Murdoch run red top newspaper said that he was hired to follow a number of celebrities and soccer stars as well as the Duke of Cambridge – who he says had no idea he was being tailed.
“They didn’t rumble me, they had no idea. That proves my expertise in relation to it, that they was not aware they were being followed. And this happened on quite a few occasions,” Webb said.
A spokesman for Prince William had no comment.
Webb says that he worked for the paper for years, and apparently tailed 90 targets including Hollywood stars like Angelina Jolie, TV personalities like Simon Cowell, rock legend Paul McCartney, and bizarrely Harry Potter actor Daniel Radcliffe’s parents. Webb said that he often took orders from the paper’s former royal editor Clive Goodman.
“[Goodman] would ask me to go to Heathrow airport and follow Chelsey Davey, which was Prince Harry’s girlfriend, and follow her to where she was going,” Webb said.
Goodman has already served time for hacking into the voice mails of royal staff. Last summer the News of the World, owned by Murdoch’s News International, was shut down after nearly 170 years in the wake of the phone hacking scandal. Former editor Rebekah Brooks resigned as CEO of News International after she was linked to the paper’s phone hacking during her tenure as editor.
The newspaper had hacked the voice mails of politicians, movie stars, murder victims and, allegedly, Kate Middleton and her family.
While the hacking of phones in the U.K. was certainly against the law, Webb’s surveillance of the Prince and the stars and sportsmen was actually not.
“There are times when it can be justified,” said high-profile British publicist Max Clifford. “But the list of people I’ve seen, I would find it very difficult to justify. You know what are they following Simon Cowell – one of my clients – for? Other than stories that titillate the readers. Where is the national interest where you can say this justifies this kind of activity? Every activity has to be looked at in its own merits.”
Over a dozen News of the World journalists have been arrested since news of the phone hacking scandal broke in July. Rupert and James Murdoch, his son and chairman and chief executive of News Corporation, Europe, and Asia, deny knowing anything about the hacking going on at the newspaper.
James Murdoch has been recalled to give evidence to British lawmakers on Thursday.