MPs 'pressed CPS to pursue blackmail case': Architect awarded costs as Old Bailey trial collapses

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The Independent Online
THREE TORY MPs are believed to have put pressure on the Crown Prosecution Service to proceed with a blackmail case against an architect which collapsed yesterday at the Old Bailey.

The defence was twice warned by the CPS that any evidence which might identify the MPs - and presumably why they had intervened - would not be disclosed to the court on the grounds of public interest immunity (PII).

The CPS was widely criticised for trying to bar disclosure of documents on the same ground during last year's Matrix Churchill trial, in which three businessmen were alleged to have breached arms embargoes on Iraq. The judge overruled the immunity of the documents, and the case against the three was dropped.

Conrad Jameson, an architect based in south- west London, was acquitted yesterday of a pounds 500,000 blackmail attempt against one of Britain's wealthiest and most reclusive men.

The prosecution had alleged that Mr Jameson, 61, threatened to expose the tycoon - referred to only as Mr A, and said to be a founder and a trustee of a national charity for abused children - for alleged perverse sexual behaviour, including an obsession with pornography.

After legal submissions at the end of the prosecution case, Judge John Murchie directed the jury to find Mr Jameson not guilty, saying the Crown had not made out its case.

The Independent understands the case was brought after the three MPs, friendly with Mr A, contacted the CPS to urge Mr Jameson's prosecution. The defence sought discovery of the identity of the MPs and any documentary evidence relating to their alleged interventions. Sources close to the defence have revealed that on two occasions the CPS warned that any such evidence would be subject to public interest immunity. No explanation was given. Normally, PII is used to deny disclosure only in exceptional cases where, for instance, there is a threat to national security. The CPS said last night that it could not comment on the case.

The use of PII could have renewed the outcry that came after the Matrix Churchill trial. It was disclosed during that case that government ministers had signed PII certificates for confidential documents which helped to acquit the three men.

The case against Mr Jameson collapsed after Judge Murchie said he had acted throughout on the advice of his solicitor and barrister, who drew up a draft writ containing the allegations. He said the court was making no findings about the allegations of improper conduct levelled at Mr A.

The judge awarded Mr Jameson, of Sydney Place, Chelsea, his costs from central funds. Mr Jameson said: 'I am very glad the nightmare is over. The case should never have been brought.'

Mr A described Mr Jameson's claims, including sexual misconduct in hotel rooms and possession of pornograhic paintings, as 'absolutely false'.

pounds 1m contract led to sex claims, page 2

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