Pair 'tried to extort £50,000 from royal with secret tapes'

Two men attempted to extort £50,000 from a member of the Royal Family by threatening to release sound recordings containing claims that he performed oral sex on a male aide, a court heard yesterday.

A jury at the Old Bailey in London was told that Ian Strachan and Sean McGuigan initially tried to sell the recordings of allegations made by the aide to several national newspapers before then attempting to blackmail the royal.

A reporter from the News of the World met Mr Strachan, 31, on several occasions and gave him hired recording equipment to obtain further footage of the allegations from the royal aide.

It is alleged that the aide, described by Mr Strachan as the royal's "right hand man" and close confidant, was filmed snorting cocaine and making disparaging and scurrilous remarks about other members of the Royal Family. The identity of the royal is protected from disclosure by a court order and he is being referred to during the trial as witness A.

During eight hours of audio and video recordings made early last year, the aide, who was seemingly drunk or "under the influence of other substances" for much of the time, described how his employer allegedly performed a sex act on him on a kitchen floor during a party. The recordings were made by Mr Strachan, from Fulham, west London, on a mobile phone owned by Mr McGuigan, 41, from Battersea, south London, the court heard.

The jury was told that, after the News of the World decided not to print a story about the tapes, the defendants approached The Sun, the Sunday Express, the Mail on Sunday and the publicist Max Clifford in an attempt to sell their material.

When all the papers declined to publish the material, the two men decided instead to target witness A in July 2007 and began attempts to contact him and his office, it is claimed.

Mark Ellison QC, for the prosecution, told the opening day of the trial: "What the defendants decided to do was turn their attention from the media to witness A himself, the member of the Royal Family who employed the man they had recorded and who was the one most likely to be damaged and embarrassed by the public revelation of the files."

The lawyer added there was "undoubtedly an element of subtlety" in the way the men allegedly attempted to extort money from the royal. The pair were arrested after representatives of witness A approached police and an undercover officer recorded the defendants describing the contents of the tapes at the Hilton Hotel in Park Lane, London, where they expected to collect the £50,000.

The court heard Mr McGuigan had earlier approached members of the royal's entourage claiming to want to protect him from the material being made public. Mr Strachan allegedly told a friend of the royal he had been offered £100,000 for the tapes – a claim described by Mr Ellison as a "blatant lie" – but was prepared to accept £50,000 from witness A. Both defendants deny a charge of making "an unwarranted demand with menaces".

Mr Strachan told the undercover officer that he wanted to expose the aide, referred to as witness D, for being "not a very nice person" and accused him of spiking the drinks of men, including himself, with the date rape drug Rohypnol before sexually assaulting them.

Describing the contents of the tapes, Mr Strachan said: "D drunk at parties telling stories including how A confides in him about everything and told him how angry he was with another member of the Royal Family and that another 'flashed his willy' in his face when they were in the lavatory together."

The case continues.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Technical Support Specialist - Document Management

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A leading provider of document ...

Recruitment Genius: Legal Secretary

£17000 - £17800 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to work ...

Recruitment Genius: Ad Ops Manager - Up to £55K + great benefits

£45000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is a digital speci...

The Green Recruitment Company: Operations Manager - Anaerobic Digestion / Biogas

£40000 - £45000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Operation...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent