London: A private investigator working for
media baron Rupert Murdoch`s newspapers had made a bizarre
attempt to prove that Prince Harry was not really the son of
This was disclosed by Nick Davies, an award-winning
journalist who has detailed several instances of unethical and
illegal practices on Fleet Street in his book, `Flat Earth
Davies said a private investigator, who worked first for
Murdoch`s News of the World and then for the Sunday Times, was
involved "in a bizarre and ultimately unsuccessful attempt to
prove that Prince Harry was not really the son of Prince
"This (the private investigator`s attempt) involved
trying to follow the Prince around in order to seize a
drinking glass or a used tissue to test his DNA."
Davies, a journalist writing for The Guardian who has
doggedly exposed the dubious news-gathering practices in the
British press, also said that besides `blagging`,
phone-hacking, `pinging` (tracking location of mobile phones),
computer hacking and bribing policemen, another method used to
gather information is scavenging dustbins.
Davies details how one Benjamin Pell - known on Fleet
Street as Benji the Binman - made a fortune from newspapers by
selling them scraps of papers and information gathered by
painstakingly going through dustbins.
"While reporters slept comfortably, Benji was out on the
streets of London, six nights a week, driving his little van
from bin to bin, sometimes collecting a hundred bags of
rubbish in a night and then spending half the following day
panhandling the filth in search of treasure for the tabloids,"
One of Benji`s `star` discoveries were documents found in
bins outside the office of solicitors hired by former minister
for defence procurement Jonathan Aitken, who was under
suspicion for using his position to set up arms deals.
He was convicted for perjury in 1999 and jailed.
Davies writes: "Digging around in the bins outside the
offices of Aitken`s solicitors, Benji unearthed documents
which showed that the former Minister had indeed been setting
up a sequence of huge arms deals..."
He adds: "The truth is that what was once an occasion
indulgence of a few crime correspondents has become the
regular habit of most news organisation... The hypocrisy is
wonderful to behold.
"These organisations exist to tell the truth and yet
routinely they lie about themselves... If falsehood and
distortion are now the routine products of the corporate news
factory, corruption is its most dangerous by-product."