AFP – October 29, 2007
The royal allegedly targeted in a sex and drugs blackmail attempt is not a senior member of the family, media outlets said Monday, citing unnamed sources.
The royal, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, had a low public profile, the BBC and other media reported. The Sun newspaper reported neither Prince William nor his brother Prince Harry were involved.
Buckingham Palace has not commented on the affair, saying it is a police matter. Newspapers have contacted the royal in question, who has likewise refused to comment.
Ian Strachan and Sean McGuigan, named as the defendants, are due to appear in court on December 20 charged with blackmail.
The men reportedly demanded 50,000 pounds in return for not publicising tapes they claimed indicated the royal had engaged in a sex act with an aide.
The Times newspaper reported that it was an alleged homosexual act.
In telephone calls to the royal's office in August, the alleged blackmailers also claimed to have proof that the royal supplied an aide with an envelope containing cocaine, The Sunday Times newspaper said.
They claimed to have video footage of the assistant snorting the drug, it said.
The weekly broadsheet reported that the royal called in the police, who duly set up a sting operation at a plush London hotel.
Property developer Strachan, 30, and McGuigan, 40, appeared at a London magistrates' court on September 13 each charged with one count of blackmail. They were remanded in custody.
The Daily Mirror newspaper said Strachan was being held at the high-security Belmarsh prison in south-east London, while McGuigan was in nearby Wandsworth jail.
Giovanni di Stefano, a high-profile lawyer whose previous clients include executed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, who is representing Strachan, said of reports that a sex act was captured on video: "There is no tape in existence.
"What there is in existence are tapes both audio and visual of an assistant to a member of the royal family boasting of how he received a sex act from this royal family member.
"Whether that act took place I do not know.
"At no time did my client call the royal household. He in fact called the private business office of the individual concerned.
"My client denies that he asked for any money and that it was in fact the office of the individual concerned who first offered money."
Newspapers said Strachan, originally from Aberdeen in Scotland, was a suave London socialite with a wealthy lifestyle.
Di Stefano said Strachan moved in "champagne Charlie" circles and regularly socialised with people on the fringes of the royal family.
According to The Sunday Times, it is the first blackmail case involving a royal in more than a century.
In 1891, the future king Edward VII discussed with his solicitor paying off two prostitutes he frequented in return for letters he had written to them.
"Anybody thinking of taking on the royals, let alone using threats against them, can learn from this unsavoury business," wrote veteran royal commentator James Whitaker in the Daily Mirror.
"This family doesn't lie down and pretend something awful isn't happening to them. They lash out, involve expensive lawyers, call in the police and fight back viciously.
"They're as hard as nails when cornered. Take them on and be prepared for the fight of your life," he said.
Last updated 04/11/2007