WIMBLEDON'S SECURITY BLUNDER; Standard Reporter Is Given Job as Driver to Tennis Stars with False CV and No References

The Evening Standard (London, England), July 1, 2005 | Go to article overview

WIMBLEDON'S SECURITY BLUNDER; Standard Reporter Is Given Job as Driver to Tennis Stars with False CV and No References


Byline: SHEKHAR BHATIA

A SERIOUS loophole in security at Wimbledon is exposed today.

Evening Standard reporter Bo Wilson spent two weeks undercover as a driver at the All England Lawn Tennis Club, transporting players and coming within feet of some of tennis's biggest names and members of the royal family.

Despite pledges of the tightest security ever, our reporter obtained the job without giving references and by providing a false CV which was never questioned.

Every day, as thousands of spectators queued to be searched for weapons, the official car she was driving was allowed through checkpoints without even a cursory search. Our reporter was also able to obtain access to a series of restricted areas in the club, including the Centre Court, where entry is by ticket only.

She was able to sit opposite the royal box, which this year has also hosted celebrities including Sir Sean Connery, Olympic athlete Sir Steve Redgrave, Chelsea captain John Terry and leading figures from industry.

The security lapses are all the more disturbing as Wimbledon officials and police are concerned about the threat of stalkers at the tournament.

Plainclothes police are deployed in the grounds and staff are supposed to be searched as well as spectators. Wilson was told by police during her training: "Wimbledon is the number one terrorist target in London over those two weeks."

In fact she was able to talk freely to a series of players and mingle with other stars and members of the royal family including Princess Michael of Kent.

She even had her photograph taken with French star Mary Pierce.

Richard Williams - father of Serena and Venus - said today he was horrified by the security lapse.

"That's sick and it's frightening," he said. "I am horrified that this was able to happen. I can't believe it.

"It's shocking that this reporter got away with it, that no one realised her CV

was fake and she wasn't who she said she was. She could have been anyone."

Our reporter was employed by Corniche Events but no one from the company was available for comment.

A Wimbledon spokesman defended its security measures and said the club always took references of people it employed directly.

He said: "We are satisfied that the appropriate security and criminal checks were carried out by the appropriate authorities and that this person posed no threat."

The reporter got a job driving players after staff at Wimbledon contacted the Standard to express their concerns about security.

She applied on the internet for the post with a newly formed company which holds the contract for the courtesy trips to which players are entitled during the tournament.

Corniche Events gave her the job despite never asking for references and being given a deliberately bogus CV.

None of the false information she supplied on the application was questioned during a brief interview.

Our reporter drove freely into the tournament every day without her car ever being checked.

Her wages and uniform are being returned to the company.

BO WILSON'S WIMBLEDON DIARY

IT was simple enough to secure my place as a Wimbledon driver.

The training was barely a challenge either. Shortly before the tournament began, all 290 of us had to undergo a two-day training course on how to ferry the players around.

Rules and regulations were simple.

Aside from obeying the laws of the road, we were told to keep our uniform washed and to smile at the tennis stars.

We were advised not to ask the players if they had "had a good day" as they might have just lost a match.

We were also warned about confidentiality - after signing an agreement not to speak to the press, we were warned against paparazzi hounding us and journalists "doing anything they could" to get the addresses of the players. …

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