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squidgygate case

The so-called ‘Squidgygate’ affair had some interesting technical ramifications. In the early 1990s a telephone conversation between the late Diana, Princess of Wales and a man subsequently identified as Mr James Gilbey was recorded and subsequently received massive world-wide publicity. It was claimed at the time to have been recorded by the late Mr Cyril Reenan, a retired bank manager living in Abingdon, who supposedly overheard the conversation on a VHF/UHF scanning receiver.

To anyone well versed in the technicalities of radio and contemporary analogue cellular telephone systems, this claim was – to put it mildly -- dubious. Crew Green Consulting was commissioned by The Sunday Times newspaper to carry out an in-depth investigation, including a visit to Mr Reenan’s premises, and produce a report. An expanded version of this incorporating a good deal of technical data was subsequently produced at the request of one of the parties to the Scott Baker inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the death of the Princess of Wales.

Crew Green Consulting’s conclusions were unequivocal. Neither Cyril Reenan nor anyone else could have recorded the conversation in the manner claimed and this account of events could not possibly have been correct. It was considered overwhelmingly likely that the conversation was actually recorded via a conventional wiretap at a landline telephone junction box in the Sandringham area, and that an attempt had been made to disguise this by adding some unconvincing and technically incorrect ‘sound effects’ to try and make it resemble the quality of a conversation recorded off-air.

Entire books, web sites and blogs have been devoted to ‘Squidgygate’. The simple fact is that no-one really knows who was responsible for obtaining the recording and subsequently doctoring it. Unfortunately Mr Reenan took the secret of his involvement to the grave. But it is abundantly clear that he did not and could not have made the recording although in some unexplained way he was clearly involved in bringing it into the public domain.

Ironically Crew Green Consulting was also invited shortly afterwards to evaluate the so-called ‘Camillagate’ recording on behalf of two major broadcasters and a national newspaper. It was easy to show that this had in fact been recorded off-air in exactly the way claimed by its protagonists. Evidently the heir to the UK throne had been somewhat ill-advised in respect of COMSEC by his security staff.

Since ‘Squidgygate’ and ‘Camillagate’ Crew Green Consulting has been involved in a number of other matters requiring forensic audio and RF expertise.

Further reading

Squidgygate Report Excerpts