British police officers sold royal details to paper: reports
Rupert Murdoch's now defunct News of the World tabloid allegedly paid British royal protection officers for details about Queen Elizabeth II and other members of the royal family, reports said Monday.
An internal inquiry at News International, the British newspaper arm of Murdoch's empire, found emails that included requests by a reporter for money to pay police in the royal protection branch, the BBC and other media said.
London's Metropolitan Police, which is leading inquiries into phone hacking and allegations of corruption at the tabloid, said the reports were part of a "deliberate campaign to undermine the investigation".
Buckingham Palace refused to comment on the claims when contacted by AFP.
The reports came a day after the News of the World printed its last edition following Murdoch's decision to close it amid the allegations over its conduct.
The BBC alleged that one email from the News of the World suggests the newspaper's then-royal editor Clive Goodman asked for cash from the editor at the time, Andy Coulson, to buy a secret directory of royal landline numbers.
The email implies that a royal protection officer wanted £1,000 (1,125 euros, $1,604) for it, the broadcaster said.
London's Evening Standard newspaper said the information also included tips about the movements and activities of the queen, her husband Prince Philip and royal staff.
Coulson and Goodman were both arrested and bailed on Friday over the alleged activities of the News of the World.
Goodman was jailed in 2007 for hacking phones, including those of members of the royal family, and Coulson resigned immediately afterwards, although Coulson denied all knowledge of the illegal practice.
Coulson went on to become British Prime Minister David Cameron's media chief, until he quit that job in January.
Scotland Yard, which has faced criticism for its handling of the phone hacking row, expressed dismay that the new information had become public.
"It is our belief that information that has appeared in the media today is part of a deliberate campaign to undermine the investigation into the alleged payments by corrupt journalists to corrupt police officers and divert attention from elsewhere," it said in a statement.
© 2011 AFP