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Palace security under review

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LONDON, England (CNN) -- The UK government is reviewing security procedures at Buckingham Palace after a newspaper reporter said he got a job as a footman on false references inside the home of the British royal family.

The reporter, from the tabloid Daily Mirror, said he had access to royal private quarters and would have been employed serving food to U.S. President George W. Bush during his state visit.

Home Secretary David Blunkett said that a "thorough review" had been ordered by UK Prime Minister Tony Blair into the apparent breach of security at the palace.

Blunkett told the House of Commons Wednesday that "robust security and criminal record checks" had been carried out on palace staff prior to the president's visit. "But employment checks proved insufficient in this (the reporter's) case."

He said: "The palace has already announced that they are reviewing this aspect of the vetting procedure."

Blunkett added that despite the breach, Britain's security forces worked with a high degree of "skill and professionalism."

The case follows other recent royal security breaches, including the gatecrashing of Prince William's 21st birthday at Windsor Castle last year by comedian Aaron Barschak. (Full Story)

Daily Mirror reporter Ryan Parry, in an article splashed across the paper's front page Wednesday, said he used false references to get the footman's job and was given a full security pass that allowed him unchallenged access to every room in the central London palace.

Parry said he delivered meals to the royals, including Queen Elizabeth II, and took pictures of the Belgian Suite, where Bush and his wife Laura are staying.

"I shuddered at the thought of the damage a terrorist could have inflicted had they been in the same position," he said.

The paper's editor Piers Morgan told CNN the story had been covered in "the public interest."

Parry said he broke cover as Bush flew into London late Tuesday amid a massive security operation with thousands of police officers on duty in the capital. (Full story)

Morgan added: "We now know that one of the footman at the palace was a Daily Mirror journalist.

"But given the way we were able to get that job, I have grave misgiving as to any certainty about who the other ones are there. I cannot rule out that there are other people lurking at the palace who've got their own dodgy references," he said.

"If you look at the scale of the access we've had, and you consider that this was a junior reporter on a national newspaper, who just gave them a couple of dodgy references, which weren't properly checked, then last night at 10:30 when he left the palace he could, if he wanted to, have taken out the president and the royal family."

Neither Buckingham Palace officials nor the Metropolitan police have commented.

Blunkett said he expected an interim report on palace security would be completed by the end of the year.


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