The former head of the British government’s intelligence and security organisation today denied bugging the Royal Family.
Rumours were rife by 1993 that GCHQ (Government Communications Headquarters) may have been behind the infamous Squidgygate and Camillagate tapes.
Under the law GCHQ would have needed to get the British foreign secretary to sign off on such a phone tap and no such green light from the British government was sought, the Diana, Princess of Wales inquest heard.
John Adye, the GCHQ director between 1989 and 1996, said: “It could not have been done without a warrant.”
Ian Burnett QC, for the coroner, said: “And intercepting the Royal Family is simply not within the scope of the intelligence the government was seeking?”
Adye replied: “Indeed, it was not.”
Mr Burnett asked: “And there was no such warrant?”
Adye answered: “I am sure there was no such warrant.”
On the tapes, James Gilbey, who was named as one of the princess’s lovers, repeatedly told her “I love you” and referred to her as “Squidgy” 53 times.
A conversation between the Prince of Wales and Camilla Parker Bowles (now the Duchess of Cornwall) in the early 1990s was also recorded and came to light around the same time.
Adye told the jury he was “satisfied” that GCHQ had not been involved in those tapes.
And in an “unprecedented” move, given the intelligence services golden rule never to comment on its operations, a statement was released denying any involvement.
The court heard that ministers were briefed so they could “truthfully” tell Parliament that “none of the security and intelligence agencies had been intercepting the communications of the Royal Family”.
Denials were repeatedly made in the House of Commons and the House of Lords.
In a written statement John Major, the then British prime minister, said: “There is no substance in the rumours about the involvement of the security and intelligence agencies intercepting the communications of the Royal Family.”
Such denials were echoed by Ken Clarke, the then British home secretary, in his “customary rather robust way,” Mr Burnett noted.
The jury have heard claims that Diana felt she may have been bugged.
Mohamed al Fayed has maintained that the fatal car crash that killed his son Dodi, Diana and driver Henri Paul in Paris’s Alma Tunnel in 1997 was set up by MI6 at the behest of the Duke of Edinburgh.