British royal target of blackmail attempt-newspaper

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LONDON, Oct 28 (Reuters) An unidentified member of the British royal family has been targeted in a sex and drugs blackmail attempt, the Sunday Times newspaper reported.

The newspaper said the plot involved two men demanding 50,000 pounds (100,000 dollars) or they would release video of what they said was a royal aide performing oral sex, apparently on the royal, and snorting cocaine that had been in an envelope they suggested was received from the royal.

It is the first time in more than a century that a member of the royal family has been the target of an alleged blackmail plot.

A Buckingham Palace spokeswoman said: ''It is a police matter and the police are investigating it and we don't have a comment.'' The Metropolitan Police issued the following statement in response to an inquiry about the story: ''A 30-year-old man and a 40-year-old man appeared at City of Westminster Magistrates Court on 13th of September, each charged with one count of blackmail.

''They were remanded in custody to appear at the Old Bailey on the 20th of December,'' the statement added, referring to London's central criminal court.

The hearing was held behind closed doors.

Reporting restrictions prevent identification of the royal in question or any witnesses.

The newspaper said the plot came to light in August when a man telephoned the royal family member's office to make the threats.

The police were called in and set up an operation in which a detective posing as a royal aide met the two men in a London hotel on September 11 and was shown the video.

The men were arrested immediately afterwards, the newspaper said.

REUTERS GT AS2251

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