This story was published on February 11, 2014
A decorated soldier who was linked to the sale of a photo of Prince William in a bikini to the press has been promoted by the Army.
Major Alex McKay has been made a Lieutenant Colonel in a round of promotions made by the armed services, MailOnline understands.
His name is said to have been published on an internal document known as the Pink List, which lists troops who will moved to a higher rank later this year.
During the phone hacking trial on December 6, police named Major McKay, who was the Prince’s platoon commander at Sandhurst, as a potential source of the photo which was taken at a James Bond-themed party.
The Old Bailey heard the The Sun wanted to buy the photo for £4,000 after a reporter exchanged emails with his ‘best contact’ in the Army.
Giving evidence, Detective Inspector David Kennett told the court police initially thought the picture may have been handed over by Major Alexis Roberts, who was acting as William’s superior at the military academy when the story broke.
But after further investigation, officers working under the Operation Elveden inquiry into corrupt payments realised that Alex McKay was the Prince’s platoon commander at the time the picture was taken, the court heard.
Mr Kennett said he wanted to interview Major McKay about the allegations, but was unable to do so because he was posted in Germany at the time – adding that it may have been necessary to caution the soldier depending on the outcome of the questioning.
He told the Old Bailey: ‘The difficulty is Mr McKay is outside my jurisdiction. The army wouldn’t post him back into jeopardy, i.e. for police interview … Based on the information I know, clearly he would be interviewed.’
The jury heard former Sun editor Rebekah Brooks approved an illegal £4,000 payment for the picture of the Prince posing as a Bond girl in a green bikini.
The jury heard that Brooks sanctioned the payment after a reporter told a news editor: ‘My best contact at Sandhurst… offered us a picture of William at a James Bond party dressed as a Bond girl.’
Kate Middleton was also at the military academy party in April 2006, dressed as James Bond in a wetsuit.
Royal couple: The photo of Prince William in a bikini was said to have been taken at a James Bond-themed party in 2006. His wife was also there
The court heard the reporter in question is said to have sent an email, saying the picture belonged to Prince William’s direct platoon commander where the Royal was training in 2006.
The reporter wrote: ‘My best contact at Sandhurst who has provided a string of great stuff over a period of months, offered us a picture of William at a James Bond party dressed as a Bond girl.
‘He is wearing a bikini and an open Hawaian shirt.
Salute: Prince William was training at Sandhurst when he attended the bash which was meant to test the cadet’s organisational skills
‘He is an instructor at Sandhurst and the picture in question belongs to a fellow instructor who is very concerned by the idea of the snap ending up in The Sun.
‘He also happens to be William’s direct platoon commander.’
The journalist added that his source ‘wants the money upfront by Saturday’.
His email was forwarded to editor Brooks who replied ‘OK’ less than ten minutes later, the court heard.
But Paddy Harverson, Prince William’s communications secretary, told the jury he asked Brooks not to use the bikini picture.
Response: The Old Bailey heard in December that when Brookes was emailed about the photo, she replied ten minutes later saying ‘OK’
The story appeared in The Sun with a mock-up of the royal’s face on a man’s bikini-clad body on September 9, 2006.
The story read: ‘Prince William caused a stir at a Sandhurst 007 bash by dressing as a Bond girl’ and also revealed his then-girlfriend Kate Middleton attended the party dressed in a wetsuit as James Bond and brandishing a toy gun.
A spokesman for the Army said they do not comment on private matters and Scotland Yard would not confirm whether Major McKay was part of their investigation.
The soldier strongly denies any involvement in the leak of the photograph, according to Army sources.
The phone hacking trial continues.