Royal in blackmail plot outed

01:43, Jan 31 2009
OUTED: The Queen's nephew, Viscount David Linley, has been named as the royal targeted in a blackmail scheme.

The member of the British royal family targeted in an alleged "sex and drugs" blackmail plot has been outed.

The Queen's nephew Viscount Linley, the son of the late Princess Margaret, cannot be identified in Britain, but has been named on websites and newspapers elsewhere, including Australia and on US television.

Buckingham Palace has not commented on the affair, saying it is a police matter. British newspapers have contacted 45-year-old Linley, who has likewise refused to comment.

Linley is married with two children, and makes his living as a high-end furniture designer.

Property developer Ian Strachan, 30, and Sean McGuigan, 40, appeared at a London magistrates' court on September 13 each charged with one count of blackmail. They were remanded in custody until December 20.

The men allegedly demanded £50,000 ($NZ136,840) in return for not publicising tapes they claimed indicated the royal had engaged in a sex act with an aide.

Advertisement

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.

Linley did not appear on the tape.

The weekly broadsheet reported that the royal called in the police, who duly set up a sting operation at a plush London hotel.

Giovanni di Stefano, a high-profile lawyer whose previous clients include executed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, is representing Strachan.

He 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."

According to The Sunday Times, it is the first blackmail case involving a British royal in more than a century.

In 1891, the then future king Edward VII discussed with his solicitor paying off two prostitutes he frequented in return for letters he had written to them.

AAP