Page last updated at 21:55 GMT, Tuesday, 15 April 2008 22:55 UK

Courts hears secret police recordings

The trial of two men accused of trying to blackmail a member of the Royal Family has heard secret police recordings of the defendants.

Londoners Ian Strachan, 31, and Sean McGuigan, 41, met a man called Paul Butler, who they were told worked for Witness A, the alleged victim of the plot.

But Paul was actually an undercover policeman.

The meeting between Paul, Mr Strachan and Mr McGuigan was recorded by police. They discussed a further sound recording, central to the case, containing claims the royal had performed a gay sex act.

During the meeting Paul said: "Now, what if I purchase this media, how do I know that it's not going to appear elsewhere?"

So if I don't purchase it you go to Max [Clifford], is that what you're saying?
Paul, undercover policeman

Mr Strachan said: "Cos I'll sign you off a waiver immediately."

Mr McGuigan said: "Well, we could have gone to other places Paul."

Mr Strachan added: "Yeah. I mean to be honest Paul I've got a contract in my pocket and I've got Max Clifford's card."

'Nowhere else'

Mr Strachan said he had "told him bits and pieces" but not allowed him to hear the recordings.

Mr McGuigan then went on to claim that the News of the World had described it as "the best thing that's come in this year".

Paul said: "If this media is elsewhere and it turns up, there is nothing I can do about it."

Mr Strachan responded: "It's nowhere else... it's there and it's here (meaning on a laptop and discs). If I wanted to do that then I would have just gone ahead in the first place."

Also on the police recording, Mr Strachan suggested they had a provisional offer of around £200,000 from a newspaper.

He said he had set out a scenario to them and asked if they would be able to print it if it "was concerning a member of the royal staff and somebody... in line to the throne".

Mr Strachan then claimed he did not want to "splash" the royal figure all over the papers.

Bargaining chip

Paul told both men he was concerned that the information might get out "even without the media".

McGuigan replied: "But it hasn't got out, and it hasn't got out and it's not gonna get out."

Strachan added: "It's only been on this computer and it's only been on those discs."

McGuigan said: "This is my personal computer. It's not been left anywhere. No-one's played about with it. No-one's gone on it. No-one's used it."

Paul asked: "So if I don't purchase it you go to Max, is that what you're saying?"

Mr Strachan replied: "Well if you don't purchase it then..."

The trial continues.



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