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Marquess 'offered bribe'

(First Edition)

THE MARQUESS of Bristol tried to bribe a business associate who informed police of his drug taking, a court was told yesterday.

Bruce Smith, a vintage car restorer, from March, Cambridgeshire, told Snaresbrook Crown Court that in return for changing his story the marquess offered to drop civil legal proceedings against him and pay him pounds 10,000.

The marquess has admitted possession of heroin and cocaine but denies two counts of supplying both drugs to James Whitby and one of supplying cocaine to Patrick Donovan.

Mr Smith, who carried out some pounds 250,000 of work for the marquess, said he regularly saw him with a leather pouch containing two glass bottles of cocaine and heroin.

He has told the jury that the marquess supplied cocaine and heroin to James Whitby, a close friend, during a dinner at his ancestral home Ickworth, in Suffolk, towards the end of 1990.

He also claims that at a shooting party there on 8 December, 1990, he saw the defendant hand a bottle of cocaine to his friend Patrick Donovan after he asked to 'freshen up'.

The trial continues today.