Scottish police irked as journalist breaches royal security

Saturday, September 25th 2004, 10:55 am
By: News On 6

LONDON (AP) _ A reporter for a British newspaper breached security at a royal residence in Scotland, police said.

Les Snowdon, Scotland editor for The Sunday Times, said Friday that the unidentified reporter spent 20 minutes inside the Palace of Holyroodhouse and left after being challenged by a construction worker.

Police expressed annoyance with what they called a journalistic stunt. A police official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the reporter broke away from a security guard who was escorting him, and police then spent hours searching the palace.

``We are making inquiries into an incident in which an intruder was discovered at Holyrood Palace,'' Lothian and Borders Police said. The press office declined to say more.

Snowdon said the newspaper decided to test security following a string of breaches at other royal and government facilities.

``A reporter wearing a hard hat was able to gain entry to a restricted area unchallenged, including the state rooms adjacent to the queen's bedroom,'' Snowdon said.

``He was under instruction to remain in that area until questioned, which happened after 20 minutes. A construction worker asked him to report to reception and he then left the palace.''

Snowdon said the newspaper notified police and agreed to cooperate with their investigation.

The incident came a week after five fox-hunting supporters ran into the Parliament chamber to protest moves to ban the sport.

Two days earlier, a man in a Batman costume scaled the front wall of London's Buckingham Palace in a protest about the rights of divorced and separated fathers to see their children.

Earlier this month, journalists from the Scotsman and Sun newspapers breached security at the Holyrood Parliament, one claiming to have been on the roof of the building, another getting close to First Minister Jack McConnell.

Last November, a reporter for the Daily Mirror got a job as a servant at Buckingham Palace, and then published embarrassing revelations and photos on the eve of President Bush's visit to the royal residence.

In June 2003, a comedian dressed in an Osama bin Laden costume gatecrashed Prince William's 21st birthday party at Windsor Castle. London's Metropolitan Police announced Saturday that minor rebukes were being given to six officers who were on duty at the party, which was attended by Queen Elizabeth II.