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Thursday, April 29, 1999 Published at 18:29 GMT 19:29 UK


Alford: 'Not a drug dealer'

John Alford made a plea 'from the heart'

Former London's Burning actor John Alford has begged a jury in a plea "from the heart" to believe him when he said he was not a drug dealer.

The 27-year-old actor was at one stage close to tears when he appeared in court, and admitted he had been "stupid and gullible" when he handed over cocaine to a bogus Arabian prince in London's Savoy Hotel.

But he said the transaction would never have taken place if he had not been "incited and induced" with the promise of earning up to £100,000 for one night's work, as part of a celebrity line-up at a nightclub opening in Dubai.

Mr Alford is defending himself on drugs charges in Snaresbrook Crown Court in London.

'I am being honest'

He denies one charge of supplying 2.037g of cocaine, and one of supplying 11.9g of cannabis resin, in August 1997. He also pleads not guilty to offering to supply a further cache of cocaine.

The court has heard that Mazher Mahmood, investigative editor at The News of the World newspaper, posed as the Arabian prince.

He secretly filmed the actor allegedly handing over the drugs in a suite at the Savoy Hotel in London. He rejects the allegations of "incitement".

Mr Alford, of Crescent East, Hadley Wood, Hertfordshire, told the court on Thursday "My mum has always taught me that honesty is the best policy.

"I believe that is true. I am talking from my heart. I am being honest."

The actor, who openly admitted he had once been a drug abuser, then insisted he was not a drug dealer.

'Job interview'

Mr Alford said the prospect of meeting royalty had made him more nervous than he had ever been, and he said he had been subjected to a big build-up by the newspaper's undercover operators.

He said: "They dangled carrots, they induced me, they incited me, they put pressure on me."

He was advised that the "sheikh" was a playboy he had to impress, he said.

"That was the reason I went there, to impress. It was a job interview, an audition, and when you go to an interview you become the person they want you to be."

Actor sacked

The court heard that Mr Alford felt under so much pressure to present himself in a good light, that a lot of what he said was "gibberish".

"I never offered anyone anything, I was asked, I was induced, I was incited", he said.

He insisted he had had no intention of supplying drugs to anyone, and said he had been left "dumbstruck" when he learned what the News of the World was about to publish.

After the story broke last year, Mr Alford was sacked from his £50,000-a-year role in the ITV television drama, based on the lives of a team of firemen.

Judge Stephen Robbins adjourned the trial until Friday, and told they jury he expected they would be able to retire next Wednesday to consider their verdicts.

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