The Crown Prosecution Service has requested that the trial of two men charged with attempting to blackmail a member of the Royal Family be held without the public being allowed into court.
Ian Strachan, 30, and Sean McGuigan, 40, pleaded not guilty to making demands with menaces, contrary to the Theft Act 1968, at the Old Bailey in December.
They were arrested in October after police mounted a sting operation and are alleged to have demanded £50,000 not to release a video showing an aide to a member of the Royal Family discussing engaging in oral sex with his employer.
The aide also allegedly claimed that the Royal supplied him with cocaine.
A spokesman for the CPS told the Daily Mirror:
“The prosecution is making an application that part of the trial be held in front of a judge and jury but not the public.”
The Daily Telegraph reports:
“The criminal charges against the men raise the prospect of a member of the Royal Family being called into the witness box for the first time in a blackmail case.”
Mr Strachan and Mr McGuigan were arrested after a police officer, posing as another Royal aide, attended a meeting with them at a Hilton hotel in London.
They appeared at City of Westminster Magistrates Court on September 13th.
That hearing was held in secret, and the judge issued an order banning any report that could identify the victims or witnesses.
Since The Sunday Times broke the story in October there has been widespread speculation as to the identity of the Royal Family member who is the victim of the alleged blackmail.
He has been named on TV in the US and Australia and on numerous websites.
The British press are legally restrained from revealing the identity of the person, though it has been reported that he does not carry out any public duties.
Buckingham Palace has refused to comment on the alleged blackmail plot, saying only that it is a matter for the police.
The alleged blackmailers first made contact with the Royal Household on August 2nd, claiming to have videotaped evidence of an aide snorting cocaine and discussing how he has had oral sex with a member of the Royal Family.
A senior legal adviser to the Royal Household contacted the alleged blackmailers and arranged to meet and view the tape.
Scotland Yard was alerted and detectives set up a sting operation at the Hilton Hotel in Park Lane.
The September 11th meeting was recorded by officers in an adjacent room as the alleged blackmailers showed a detective posing as a Royal aide the video.
They were then arrested.