Today, those fears have taken on a nightmarish reality with the news that Pippa’s iCloud has been hacked, and that stolen pictures allegedly showing intimate scenes from royal life as well as shots of her boyfriend naked are being hawked to the media, with the hacker demanding sums upward of $65,000 for a cache of 3,000 pictures.
However late on Saturday evening, reports began to filter out that a man suspected of the crime had been arrested. The 35-year-old suspect was taken into custody at a south London police station after being arrested on suspicion of a Computer Misuse Act offence, police said.
The hacker had offered the pictures for sale but had also indicated that he was not averse to blackmailing Pippa, offering to return the pictures if paid.
The Sun newspaper said that the cyber thief—who contacted them through the Jabber encrypted messaging service—claimed to have obtained a vast trove of pictures and other data from Pippa’s account.
The pictures are said to include shots of Pippa at a wedding dress fitting and ones of her fiancé in the nude.
The Sun also says that the thief claimed to be in possession of pictures of Pippa’s sister Kate, and her brother-in-law Prince William.
The incursion could prove to be the biggest breach of royal privacy in history if the pictures end up being disseminated online by the thief.
If the pictures emerge into the public domain, the fall out for the royals would far outweigh any previous incidents involving long lens paparazzi intrusions.
There was widespread amazement over British breakfast tables this morning that Pippa had apparently continued uploading pictures to the cloud after so many accounts were publicly compromised last year.
In August 2014 more than 500 accounts were raided and hundreds of personal and compromising images and videos were stolen and disseminated, most famously naked pictures of the actress Jennifer Lawrence. Lawrence described the intrusion to Vanity Fair as a “sex crime.”
The paper says that to prove the authenticity of his claims, “the crook calling himself ‘Crafty Cockney’ emailed two photos showing the socialite at what appeared to be her wedding dress fitting session.”
Other data and pictures stolen allegedly include pictures of Kate and the royal family with the royal children and private pictures of Pippa and James and friends partying.
A spokesman for Pippa and James confirmed to The Sun that the leak was genuine, with a spokesperson saying, “Thank you very much for drawing this to the family’s attention. I can confirm that not only have the lawyers been informed but the police are about to be involved as well.”
News of the arrest will come as a welcome relief to the Middletons. If the police have the right man, their action will significantly reduce the chances that the pictures will enter the public domain.