Secrecy bid over Royal blackmail case

Prosecutors are to ask a judge to order that at least part of the trial of two men charged with trying to blackmail a junior member of the Royal family should be held in secret.

The Crown prosecution Service has said it will argue that covert audio and DVD recordings made by undercover police should only be played behind closed doors to protect the identity of the alleged victim.

The decision on whether part of the trial should be held in camera, will be made by the trial judge, Mr Justice Cooke, at a hearing at Reading Crown Court on Wednesday.

The blackmail trial will take place at the Old Bailey next month.

A Crown Prosecution Service spokesman said: “The Prosecution is making an application that part of the trial be held in camera – in front of judge and jury, but not public – to play in un-edited form, two media exhibits that form part of the evidence.

“Next Wednesday we will tell the judge that such an order is necessary to protect the identity of the alleged victim of the offence and other persons referred to in that recording.”

A court order already bans publication of anything which would disclose the name of the royal and or of other witnesses in the case.

Ian Strachan, 31, and Sean McGuigan, 40, both of London, deny making an unwarranted demand of £50,000 with menaces “from a male” between January 1 and September 12, last year.

The men were arrested after an undercover sting operation by police at a central London hotel.

The alleged victim was not directly involved and is not due to be a witness.

One individual has already been widely named on internet websites based outside the United Kingdom as the alleged victim.

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