CLIVE GOODMAN, the News of the World royal editor, and another man were charged last night with phone hacking offences after allegations that mobile telephone calls from the royal household had been tapped.
Mr Goodman, 48, and Glenn Mulcaire, 35, were accused of a string of offences on the day that the investigation was widened to include the Cabinet minister Tessa Jowell and David Blunkett.
The Times has learnt that detectives are examining whether the News of the World intercepted mobile telephone voicemail messages from Ms Jowell about the collapse of her marriage to the businessman David Mills. The newspaper reported that Ms Jowell had accused her husband of cashing in on her connections with Tony Blair. Mr Mills is to stand trial on fraud charges in Italy.
The Times has also learnt that concern over mobile telephone security is so great that the Cabinet Office has given a warning to ministers to use them only if they have to.
Mr Goodman, who lives in Putney, southwest London, was accused of a total of nine offences, including plotting with Mr Mulcaire to ?intercept communications, namely by agreeing to access individuals? telephone voicemail messages, in the course of their transmission by means of a public telecommunication system, contrary to the Criminal Law Act 1977?.
Both he and Mr Mulcaire, from Sutton, Surrey, were also each charged with eight counts of intercepting communications on dates between January and May this year.
Mr Goodman and Mr Mulcaire were arrested on Tuesday after an eight-month investigation by Scotland Yard.
Mr Mulcaire runs a crisis management company called Nine Consultancy, in Chelsea, and is involved with the non-league football club AFC Wimbledon. He is a former player and assistant manager of the Ryman League Premier Division club and scored the club?s first goal ? in a friendly at Bromley in 2002.
Both were released on police bail last night to appear at Horseferry Road Magistrates? Court next Wednesday. A third man, aged 50, was released on police bail early yesterday.
While the Prime Minister and key ministers have secure mobiles, other ministers? voicemails are susceptible. A Labour Party source said: ?Tessa is easily the most vulnerable member of the Cabinet as she uses her mobile all the time.?
The police are also poring over the telephone records of Mr Blunkett, the former Cabinet minister, to see if there is any link to the newspaper?s claims last year that he had an affair with an estate agent.
The Scotland Yard Anti-Terrorist Branch was called in over concerns of interception of the voicemail of Paddy Harverson, the Prince of Wales?s communications secretary; Helen Asprey, Prince William and Prince Harry?s diary secretary; and Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton, their private secretary.
The alarm was raised in November when the News of the World revealed that Prince William was to borrow video-editing equipment from Tom Bradby, 39, the former ITN royal correspondent who is now its political editor. It is believed that only Prince William?s diary secretary and two other officials knew that Mr Bradby had agreed to lend the equipment.
The News of the World also revealed that Prince William had seen his father?s doctor for a knee injury. Only the diary secretary and the doctor are thought to have known that.
The princes have been complaining privately for months that they feared there had been a serious breach of security.
The Anti-Terrorist Branch has searched addresses including the offices of the News of the World in Wapping, East London, and Nine Consultancy.
Anyone can record a personal phone conversation for their own use. It is illegal to intercept a conversation, without a police warrant, with the intention of making it available to a third person
A person must not ?knowingly or recklessly? and without consent obtain or disclose personal data
?Press must not seek to obtain or publish material acquired by using hidden cameras or clandestine listening devices; or by intercepting private or mobile telephone calls, messages or e-mails . . .?