Saturday, October 27, 2007

Royal Family member extorted in 'sex and cocaine blackmail video plot'

Scotland Yard have arrested two men in connection with blackmailing a member of the royal family

by GLEN OWEN - 28th October 2007

Scotland Yard is investigating an alleged sex and drugs blackmail plot against a member of the Royal Family, it was revealed last night.

The extraordinary plot was uncovered when the Royal – who cannot be identified for legal reasons – called in police after allegedly being approached by two men in August demanding £50,000 not to publicise a video which they claimed showed the Royal engaged in a sex act.

Detectives from Scotland Yard's kidnap and blackmail unit set up a sting operation at the Hilton hotel in London's Park Lane and claim to have arrested the two men as they played the footage.

The suspects thought they were showing the film to a member of the Royal's private staff.

The men are also said to have phoned the Royal's office claiming to have video evidence that the Royal had supplied an aide with an envelope containing cocaine.

Following a secret hearing before City of Westminster magistrates on September 13, two men aged 30 and 40 have been remanded to appear at the Old Bailey on December 20.

Nothing is known about what was said at the hearing.

It would be the first time in more than 100 years that a Royal has been the victim of a blackmail attempt.

In 1891, the Duke of Clarence, son of the future Edward VII, discussed the possibility of paying off two prostitutes he had met, in exchange for the return of two letters he had sent to them.

London Hilton Park Lane, where Scotland Yard set up a sting operation

The alleged new blackmail attempt began on August 2 when one of the accused allegedly called the Royal's office claiming to possess an envelope, embossed with the Royal's personal insignia, which contained cocaine.

It is alleged he then said that he had a videotape showing an aide giving someone – who he suggested was the Royal – oral sex.

It was claimed last night that one of the Royal's legal advisers had arranged with the caller to view the video before handing over the money.

A detective, posing as a member of the Royal's staff, then arranged the meeting in the Hilton suite on September 11, which was secretly filmed from an adjoining room.

A gagging order was issued preventing the identity of any victims or witnesses from being disclosed.

The move is often employed in blackmail cases to protect the victim from exposure.

Under Crown Prosecution Service guidance, courts should only exercise the power to hear cases in secret when the public's presence "would genuinely frustrate the administration of justice".

Because it goes against the basic British legal principle of open justice, any decision to sit "in camera" is not justified merely to save embarrassment.

In this case it is understood that the CPS made the application for the hearing to be held secretly.

Last night a Scotland Yard spokeswoman said: "A 30-year-old man and a 40-year-old man appeared at the City of Westminster Magistrates Court on September 13 charged with one count of blackmail.

"They have both been remanded in custody to reappear at the Central Criminal Court on December 20.

"The entire hearing was held in camera.

"There are strict reporting restrictions in place banning the publication of anything that would lead to any victims, witnesses or companies involved being identified."

Details of the Duke of Clarence's indiscretions with a prostitute in 1891 did not come to light until incriminating letters were auctioned at Bonhams in 2002 for £8,220.

Writing at the time, the Duke confided: "I am very pleased that you have been able to settle with Miss Richardson, although £200 is rather expensive for letters.

"I presume there is no other way of getting them back. I will also do all I can to get back the one or two letters written to the other lady."

The price tag was a hefty sum for the 26-year-old Prince – equivalent to around £12,000 today.