IAN STRACHAN was jailed for blackmailing a member of the Royal Family over allegations of a sex and drugs ‘scandal’. But a media blackout ensured that little of the substance of the case was reported.
The so called Royal Blackmail court case last year sent reverberations through the entire English upper crust. It had all the tabloid ingredients: sex, drugs, clandestine homosexuality, blood money, a Republican connection and a blackmail plot that must have deeply unnerved the Queen herself.
One of the men convicted of blackmail is Sean McGuigan, an Irish expatriate, originally from Belfast and living in London. The other is 32-year-old Ian Strachan, a Scot who also lived in Ireland for some 18 months, and is dating an Irishwoman. He describes her as the love of his life.
According to some media reports, Strachan and McGuigan had videotaped a Royal ‘aide’ boasting of sex acts with a prominent (male) member of the Royal Family. Others suggested that he had recorded images of that same individual performing oral sex on a fellow male. The recordings were made surreptitiously.
What is certain is that Strachan and McGuigan had been involved in discussions with the News of the World about publishing a story based on the contents of the covert recordings. According to Ian Strachan, the newspaper had offered £250,000 for the ‘story’. The News of the World denies this, indicating that they were prepared to pay a far smaller sum. Hot Press understands that in fact £50,000 had been offered.
With the News Of The World offer in their back pocket, Strachan and McGuigan made the Royal family aware that they had incriminating tapes. They then went to meet a ‘conduit’ to the Royal Family at the Hilton Hotel on September 11, 2007 and, after a potential £50,000 payoff had been discussed, were arrested. The tape, which was recovered from them at the Hilton, showed what British newspapers insisted on calling the ‘Royal aide’, described only in court as ‘Witness D’, taking drugs and boasting about a sexual liaison with his employer.
While the name of what the British papers categorised as a ‘minor’ Royal could not be reported in the British press, it has subsequently emerged that the Royal is far more prominent than had been suggested. In a plethora of reports originating outside the UK, the target of the blackmail attempt has been identified as Princess Margaret’s son, Viscount David Linley, who is the twelfth heir to the throne of England. Ian Strachan independently confirmed his identity to Hot Press.
We will leave it to readers to make up their own minds as to the guilt or otherwise of Ian Strachan, who continues to robustly protest his innocence, insisting that he never blackmailed anyone. But there is another perspective on all of this. What is it that leaves people exposed to potential blackmail attempts? A significant element has to do with a combination of outmoded laws and social conventions that are at best highly questionable.
Hot Press has campaigned for the legalisation of drugs, including cocaine – which features in one of the clips seen by us. Is there anything wrong with using cocaine as the royal ‘aide’ does in the recording? Only that it is against the law. And there is certainly nothing wrong with having gay sex, which in any event is an entirely private and personal matter. That is until it becomes part of the kiss’n’tell culture fostered, in particular, by the UK tabloids. For, in a sense, it is the saleability of material of this kind, and the willingness of media to buy it, which is at the heart of this story.
There is another twist. The aide, who was employed in his furniture business by Viscount Linley, is on film snorting from a series of white lines, and he subsequently admitted the use of drugs in a statement to the police. While it is Hot Press’ view that this should not be a chargeable offence, there is still more than a hint of hypocrisy about the fact that no charges were pursued in this instance by the police – suggesting that there is one law for the friends of royals and another for the rest.
These are the subtexts to a story of sexual intrigue and ultimately betrayal. The controversial Italian Giovanni Di Stefano is Ian Strachan’s lawyer. He explained that Strachan, who is in a low security prison, is entitled to five days leave each month and was interested in talking to me. A few days later, I hooked up with the by now infamous socialite, for his first ever in-depth interview.
Strachan, whose real name is Paul Adalsteinsson, has a gentle touch of a Scottish brogue in his polished accent. He happily filled me in on his own background.
“I came from a wealthy background on both sides of the family,” he told me. “But I always made my own way. I was born in Aberdeen, Scotland. My mother is Scottish and my father is Icelandic. I went to primary school there and I went to the United States. I lived there for a couple of years in Houston. My parents then went to New York and the Middle East. I sort of travelled all around.
“I went back to Aberdeen when I was about 16 years old. I finished off school there. I went to university to study law. I dropped out and I started a clothing retail business. I had a few shops across Scotland. After that I went into the property market in the Czech Republic. I didn’t do too badly over there, around about 2000. Then I came back to the UK and I continued with property until around 2003 when I started working for fashion mags.”
Immersing himself in the London social scene thanks to his connections in the fashion world, Strachan soon found himself rubbing shoulders with – literally – royalty. Which is where things took a serious turn for the worse…
Here for the first time Strachan tells his side of the story.
Jason O’Toole: During the court case in the Old Bailey, you stated: “My family spans a friendship going back 60 years with the Royal Family.”
Ian Strachan: My Icelandic grandfather whom I was named after used to play golf occasionally with Prince Philip in St Andrew’s. I have pictures. I’ve also got pictures of my Scottish grandfather with Princess Margaret, which are actually signed by David Linley (laughs)!
Is it true that you mixed in the Royal circles? I heard you knew William and Harry.
I met them a couple of times. I was going to nightclubs and I knew the people who ran the clubs, so they would be at the table next to us. It was just a question of bumping into people, but I knew them. I knew Zara Philips. Freddie Windsor – I would see him at parties.
You explained to the court why you made these tapes.
I did. I told the court that the Royal’s assistant was in the habit of drugging people and taking sexual advantage of them. He chats up people and takes advantage of them. So initially, the recording started off to get back at the aide. We wanted to sort him out. And it developed into something else.
So, you’re saying this was revenge?
Correct. We were hoping that the material we initially set out to gain would have this person sacked from his employment.
According to the statement made to the police by the Royal ‘aide’, it appears that you had a relationship with him?No (laughs), no, no. That was absolutely ridiculous.
He says you had left him a note saying that you “still loved and care for” him.
He never gave evidence in the trial, you know? I don’t know where that’s coming from.
This is a witness statement...
His witness statement? That was never actually part of the trial. That was never up in the trial and, actually, that whole statement was rubbished. He made several statements and each one was different and every single thing that he said we rubbished – he was trying to cover himself.
Who’s idea was it to make these recordings – yours or McGuigan’s?
It was a mutual agreement. First of all, we just got the guy snorting cocaine and stuff like that. It was just a bit of a giggle. We couldn’t actually believe we were doing it. We were just seeing what we could get away with.
I can’t believe they’d do drugs in front of you and then do some sex acts. It sounds like something out of a far-fetched movie.
Definitely (laughs). This was at a party – the Charlie was out on the coffee table and these people were sniffing away. With the rest of the tape, a lot of it happened when we weren’t there, if you get what I’m saying?! So, we weren’t actually in the vicinity at the time. We weren’t like standing over people with our phones out!
Some newspapers reported that the footage was recorded on phones?
It was just inaccurate reporting. We had a substantial amount of DVD-quality video material. Initially, it started off with mobile phone footage and audio recorders and then we progressed by using a surveillance company to get us a few cameras.
You’re basically saying the camera was hidden in the room?
Correct. Whenever we reviewed the tapes we were shocked. We never expected to get what we got. It started off as a joke. It started off as a piss-take. A wind-up. I’m sitting there with a mobile phone in these guys’ faces while they’re snorting Charlie. Snorting coke with the Royal aide and telling all their little stories – and I’m sitting there with a mobile phone in their face, for God’s sake! It was just a joke to start off with. Then we thought, ‘Fucking hell! Just think if we did this properly? What would you get?’
The initial reports said you had less than an hour of footage. You seem to be suggesting that you have a lot more footage.
We turned up at the meeting with clips. I’m not stupid. I’m not going to turn up at a fucking hotel and bring all my wares with me. I was quite happy for them not to know what I have. I’m not going to stand up and say, ‘You know what? We have all this!’ If you go over the court transcripts, I did say that they only got the clips. The police spent £3 million looking for these tapes alone! They were busting open safety deposit boxes all over London. I was giving them red herrings. When I was in Belmarsh, I was writing letters to Sean saying, ‘Thank God we put the tapes in the Harrod’s safety deposit box!’ Next thing you know, we’re watching the news and the anti-terrorist police are cracking open safety deposit boxes in North London. It wasn’t illegal money and drugs they were looking for – it was these tapes.
Did you ever fear for your life?
Of course! My mother was threatened on several occasions, as were other members of my family. I thought I might get shot in the head!
So, why didn’t you just leave the country?
I never thought about that, but I did think what we had was extremely dangerous. As soon as they found out we had it, we just had to roll with it. That’s all we could do. We had to turn up at that meeting with the material. We had no option.
Where did the videotaping take place?
It was filmed over various places in London. It was filmed in the assistant’s apartment and it was also filmed at a couple of parties. It was recorded over a period of about three months. The whole blowjob scenario was a very small point of the tape. When the story came out it was all about the sex act and that was only a very small point in the tapes, to us. There was more shocking and probably damaging stories concerning basically nearly every senior member of the Royal Family.
How many hours of footage do you have?
There’s eight hours.
Apart from the blowjob, are there other potential sex scandals on those tapes?
I’ve got to be very careful about what I say here, Jason. It was revealed that the death of Princess Margaret was not actually a stroke. My understanding is that she died from HIV contracted from a guy called Johnny Bindon (nicknamed Biffo – JOT), who was a gangster she used to date*. There was a big thing about when Princess Margaret burnt her feet in the bath and she blamed the maid. The actual story was: she was out of her face on valium and gin – as she usually was – and she actually got into the bath not realising she’d poured the hot water in and not the cold. It’s all on the tapes. (*It is widely known both that Princess Margaret had a relationship with Bindon and also that Bindon died from an AIDS-related illness. Princess Margaret is, as far as I have been able to establish, the only royal ever to have been cremated. – JOT)
Do any of the prominent Royals appear on these tapes?
This actually never came out – there’s one of the younger Royals. We have phone footage of him and a well known nightclub promoter with drugs in a club.
Was Princess Diana mentioned on these tapes?
There’s loads about Princess Diana. Absolutely loads about her alleged murder.
Does anybody say on tape they believe that Princess Diana was murdered?
The Royal aide did, yeah. There’s a half hour of tape about her. You have the Royal aide slagging off Charles, Philip and the Queen. Also on the tapes, there’s lots of comments about Harry, William, Kate Middleton, Elton John, Ringo Starr, Ivana Trump, Jeffery Archer. Everyone is mentioned. The whole fucking lot of them, mate.
It appears like you were looking for money. Blackmail must have crossed your mind at some stage?
The problem I have with that question is that the amount is ridiculous. £50,000 is very kind of Doctor Evil! It’s a ridiculous amount of money for the tapes we had.
You could have been broke and needed some quick cash.
If there was going to be a financial demand – if I had blackmailed him – I would have got away with it. There was no blackmail. I know what it is worth in the media. I know what Giovanni has been offered for the tapes. It’s a preposterous suggestion. Sean and I were allegedly in cahoots together, so if you think about it, £50,000 split between us is only £25,000 each.
Do you not think it’s morally wrong to record people like this?
What this guy was doing to people was morally wrong.
You say you wanted revenge, but you didn’t have to drag Linley into this.
We were involved with News Of The World at the time. I showed them bits and pieces and they were giving me pointers as to what they thought the tape should have. Originally, this person was just slagging off all the people that come out to Linley’s, the drugs angle and all the stories about different members of the Royal Family. That actually never came out during the court case because my evidence was actually given in-camera. I specifically told News of the World that if I handed over these tapes to them that they could not target Linley. They didn’t agree to that.
Come on, that’s being naïve – a tabloid was always going to go after the Royal subject and not the aide.
Yeah, I agree with that. OK, Linley appeared in parts of the tape I gave to the News of the World but it was stripped down.
Even though the UK press are prohibited from publishing the names, you still ended up potentially ruining Linley’s reputation because it’s all over the internet.
I’ll tell you what, if we hadn’t been set up in that hotel room, if Linley hadn’t used his power to draft in the anti-terrorist squad and Royal protection squad, and try to keep the whole thing secret, and try us in secret, and really try to fuck up our lives, then this would have never come to the forefront of the fucking world. In a sense, yes, we are partially to blame, but so are his acts.
Do you feel sorry for him?
It’s a very hard question to answer because I’m sitting in prison doing a five year sentence. What he went through was harsh but – in the same respect – he did stitch us up. And it kind of backfired on him too. He’s ended up with egg on his face. So, I wouldn’t say I feel sorry for him. No. I think the majority of this is his own doing.
Did you know Linley well?
Yeah, I knew him very well – socially. I first met him in the year 2000. I was invited to fourteen of his parties between 2005 and 2007. I was always invited to his home parties. In fact, I got handwritten invitations, done by his hand. I knew his wife and I met his father. Yeah (laughs), I knew him well, but he denied this initially. In the police interview, he denied he ever knew me. So, I produced evidence and photographs of us. Those were put to him over a series of interviews by the police. He said he remembered me. But the evidence was there that we knew each other.
It came out in court that you tried to hawk the tapes to several newspapers.
To be quite frank with you, some were scared off by the severity of the material. They were all worried about being sued. These were all Royal correspondents I was dealing with – they were worried about their reputations and what damage it might cause them with the Royal Family. I was also in touch with The Sun newspaper. Now this is in the trial: the guy who gave evidence, a guy called Duncan Larcombe, I offered the material to Duncan to print for no money whatsoever. He said that in court. That was a big step forward for us in court. We thought, ‘There you go, you know?’ We were dealing with quite a few newspapers at the time. For example, The Daily Express – the question was put to the woman I was dealing with: ‘Did the question of money ever arise?’ Her words were: she thought it was unusual dealing with me because I had no interest in money. No figures ever discussed.
Surely there’s no essential difference between blackmailing him and selling stories to a newspaper?
Flogging stories to papers happens on a daily basis. Some people even make their living out of it. Some people do that full-time. So there is a difference – because for blackmail there has to be a demand with menace and selling stories to papers is just legal, isn’t it?
Why did the newspaper deal fall apart to ‘expose’ the aide?
We were offered a certain amount of money and they wanted me to get Linley on tape snorting drugs and saying certain things. To be honest with you, things started spiralling out of control with this and I thought it was time to pull back. They weren’t happy and that’s when I went to see Max Clifford. They found out I’d been to see Max and what I’ve been told – from various journalists – is that with News Of The World, whenever they think they’ve got a scoop and you won’t deal with them, they then grass you up to the source. Apparently that’s what happened in this situation. There were certain offers by the News Of The World and Max Clifford associates as well. News Of The World – or this is the way I perceive the situation – talked to the Royal household because we wouldn’t sell it to them. They tipped off David Linley that we had this material. Then my co-defendant tried to get in touch with the Royals directly. There was a conduit in place. He got in contact with Sean. Basically he wanted the material. He offered holidays to my co-defendant in France. The way they were going about it was a bit dodgy to me. We were quite prepared to give them the material for nothing – if we got what we wanted and it wasn’t about money.
What did Max Clifford say?
Sean and I went to see Nicola Philips at Max Clifford’s office a couple of times. She wanted us to put our names to it. I wasn’t prepared to do so.
What do you mean by putting your name to it?
She wanted us to step up to the plate. Have our names and faces in the papers, etc.
So, you didn’t want to be in the papers and got cold feet?
And then you decided to approach the Royal himself?
Yes. There were various meetings going on.
And what was his reaction?
The thing is, I attempted to speak to Linley personally but he then (laughs) wouldn’t take my call funnily enough. I ended up conversing through the Royal conduit. He may not actually have been giving Linley the whole truth. I think he was embarrassed to be having the conversations with him. But I think he was shocked.
Why did you not simply give him the tape or just get rid of it?
That’s what we offered to do. That’s what the meeting was about. The Royal’s lawyer offered us money for the material – on several occasions. I told him he could have it for nothing. As my co-defendant did and there’s evidence of that on the police transcripts. But he said to us he’d prefer to give us a golden handshake – a thank you – to ensure the copyrights, (so) that we had no hold over this material in the future, if we ever decided to sell it. He said he would complete a waiver for us to sign. I was in full agreement with that. But we did offer it to them for nothing. There was like tape-recorded conversations that the police had and there was never any evidence of me making any demand for money. With blackmail, to have a demand of menace you need to have a financial demand and the menace. But there was never any evidence of that.
On the Hilton hotel arrest tapes, you say: ‘If you purchase the tapes...’?
Correct. But the line was never completed. I wasn’t given the opportunity to complete the sentence. That was our point in court – there was never any demand with menace. I was asked the question, ‘If we don’t purchase the tapes?’ (I replied), ‘If you don’t purchase the tapes, then...’ I never actually completed the sentence.
How much was the golden handshake going to be?
It’s not a lot, is it?
Not very much at all. If I was going to blackmail someone – and especially if I know what he’s worth – I’d ask for a hell of a lot more than £50,000. I was being offered more by the newspapers. News Of The World was talking £250,000. During the trial, there were offers being made to Giovanni of £500,000 and £1 million for the tapes. £2 million for the tapes. We could’ve sold them if it was about the money.
It’s been reported that you forged a document to pretend the News Of The World had offered you £250,000 for the story?
I suspect that the News Of The World put this out to damage my reputation. That contract was given to me by a journalist in the News Of The World. The figure was discussed. It was written on a piece of paper.
What happened when you went to the Hilton Hotel for the meeting at which you were arrested?
We were in that room for an hour and a half. I’ve watched the tapes several times myself – there’s nothing ever said in that room to provoke an arrest. I think the police just got fed up waiting and they just decided to pounce. The door burst open and armed anti-terrorist officers entered the room. I was pulled out of sight of the hidden camera in the room and my arm was twisted behind my back; I was then cuffed in the toilet, and that’s when they broke my hand. I suffered a fracture to the fourth metacarpal when I was arrested. I think the anti-terrorist police are used to dealing with struggling terrorists rather than an alleged Royal blackmailer.
If you could go back in time, I bet you wouldn’t walk into that hotel room.
I don’t know (laughs). I might do!
So, was it worth it?
No. I wish I’d done things differently.
Do you feel you got a fair trial?
It was a complete circus. We did pursue the entrapment clause at court – but everything we asked for was rubbished by the judges. I was in court for four weeks. Court 11 in the Old Bailey. They had the Senior Treasury Counsel prosecuting me, who also prosecuted Jeffery Archer and Lord Brockett. We also had a top judge, Peter Cooke, who’s no softie. This didn’t do my finances any good. After the trial, they called me back for £120,000 of costs to pay to the prosecution.
In court, you listed a string of high-profile friends and acquaintances, all of whom were given a pseudonym from A-Z. In fact, you mentioned so many that you ran out of letters and had to refer to some as Z1, Z2 and Z3.
That’s correct (laughs). They only granted anonymity to every member of the Royal Family and they actually ran out of letters of the alphabet. These were all people who were involved in the tapes. They were either members who were spoken of or appeared in the tapes.
How did you react when you received a five year sentence?
Initially, I kind of thought I was going to get more. I was advised to brace myself for an 8 to 10. But I don’t think we should have been convicted. I don’t think there was enough evidence. The prosecution ‘created’ a scenario and they created a picture of us through clever manipulation of the British media. We were really charged on Fleet Street. We were found guilty before the trial even began.
How did Giovanni Di Stefano end up representing you?
I actually called Giovanni two days before I was arrested. I thought he would be able to offer advice to me. Unfortunately, he was busy in Iraq. And after I was arrested, I got somebody to contact Giovanni. I knew people who’d used him in the past. He was recommended to me.
In court you were branded a “fantasist” and a liar, whose fertile imagination meant that you were “incapable of deciphering fact from fiction”.
That came from Sean McGuigan’s QC. I think it was a ridiculous statement to make. But I’ve said a few things in court about McGuigan and that was their attack on me. The quotes you see in the press was a rough summary drawn up by the CPS and passed by the judge to release to the press. In my opinion, that was biased. It was censored – it was stripped down.
Why the hell did even your own counsel, summing up to the jury, describe you as a “twit”?
No, it wasn’t actually my counsel who called me a twit, it was McGuigan’s counsel. His angle was he was trying to make us look like a pair of jokers – that we wouldn’t be capable of doing something like this. That was a very stupid angle to take.
Are you still on speaking terms with Sean McGuigan?
No. We do not talk. He tried to con me into pleading guilty. The thing is with Sean he underestimates people and he overestimates his own intelligence. He attempted to do a deal with the CPS behind my back, thinking he’d trick me into accepting it and he’d get a lighter sentence. When it actually came to the court case, I gave evidence – he was supposed to give evidence and he didn’t. And his PC played a cut-throat role in trying to strip me down and make me look guilty and get Sean off, so because of those situations I don’t speak to him anymore. I’m not too happy about that because I stood by Sean and I never said anything that I could’ve said about him in court. I was asked by his prosecution not to mention various things about his lifestyle, which I did not do. I was honourable – even when I was attacked.
According to a story in the Daily Mail, Sean lived in a “small flat owned by Threshold support, which helps those with mental health problems”.
That’s not true. Sean was a bit of a wild boy – he liked the highlife. Sean’s a failed entrepreneur. He’s a clever guy, but he’s just never applied himself properly. He did quite well for himself. Ten years ago he had a limousine company. But Sean’s downfall was drink and drugs. He always got sucked into that circle of cocaine and alcohol. It didn’t do him any favours, to be honest. One night, he had the contract to chauffeur people to and from Jodie Kidd’s country club. He had a few drinks and – with people in the back – he ended up getting chased through Mayfair at 90 miles an hour in this 38 foot stretch limousine. He ended up getting rid of the people, evading the police and then smashing the car into 12 other cars. So, he lost the business. He was sent to jail for three years. When he came out, he had nowhere to go – so that was a trust house given to him. It wasn’t a small, pokey flat. It looked like a private house. Sean had spent thousands of pounds on it – he had speaker systems built into the ceiling and the furniture was amazing. It looked palatial. It was an amazing party flat. It looked like a nightclub when you walked into it.
The Evening Standard described Sean as “rough”…
Bullshit. Listen, Sean and I rubbed a lot of people up the wrong way. A lot of people were jealous about how we were living. Sean was driving around in a Bentley. He always had money. He had a Rolex on his wrist. He was always smartly dressed. We were always going to nice places.
How did he always have money if he didn’t work?
I wouldn’t like to say!
Where’s Sean originally from?
He was born on the Falls Road in Belfast. The father moved from Dublin up to the North. Sean always claimed there were very strong Republican connections.
Have you suffered from depression or felt suicidal since getting locked up?
You must be joking, mate. No. Not at all. I’ve taken as much positivity as I can from it. I’ve used it to my advantage. I got myself in the gym. I’m down to 16½ stone. Complete muscle. And my mind’s sorted. I’m clear in the head. And I’ve never contemplated suicide or had any depressing thoughts about it at all. I’m in a low-security prison. You get out twice a week for town visits and then I’m out every 23 days for five days home leave. I’ve been through the ‘A Cat’ (high security) where I’m like sharing with two other people a cell with a toilet – eating shit and being locked up for 22 hours a day. I kept my head down in prison; I never got involved in drugs or fights. Sean is still locked up.
When do you expect to be released?
My release date is March 2010. I’m trying to take advantage of the Criminal Justice Act 2008, Section 34, which says that if you’re residing abroad prior to your arrest or have the intention to settle abroad then they will let you go up to nine months early. So, seeing as I don’t want to stay in the UK anyway, I’m considering taking that route. I’ve got lots of things in the pipeline. I’ll leave England. I’d be monitored here for the rest of my life if I stayed here. I’m not really interested in this country whatsoever. Ireland is a possibility.
So you’re thinking about settling down in Ireland?
I love Ireland. Kinsale is a favourite place of mine. I haven’t been out in Dublin for a good four years now, but I really enjoyed myself when I was there. I like Irish girls as well. I love the accent. I lived in Portadown in the North for a year-and-a-half. I was engaged to a girl there, whom I’m now back with, actually. We spent quite a lot of time going backwards and forwards. I’ve always liked Dublin.
Are you going to get married?
We’ll see how it goes. But I’ve always loved her and I’ve got a second chance with her, so it might be on the cards.
How did your family react to this scandal?
They’ve all been very supportive. If anything I’ve been patted on the back and bought more coffees – I’m not allowed to drink at the moment (laughs). But nothing negative – nobody has slapped me on the street or anything. If anything, people find it amusing.
Is it true that you’re not close to your father?
Yeah. My parents are separated. I don’t think I’ve spoken to my father in 10 years.
The papers report you as boasting that your father’s “Icelandic and very rich” – but a story in the Mail says he works in a fish processing factory.
Let me clarify this – a story came out that I told people my father was an Icelandic Supreme Court judge. That is not true. I told people my uncle is an Icelandic Supreme Court judge. That’s where the confusion lies. And my father is not a fish factory process worker – he’s a fish merchant.
School friends at Aberdeen Grammar School remember you as a Walter Mitty character…
The funny thing about this is there was nobody ever quoted as saying these things. Listen, Sean and I were a pair of jokers. We used to wind people up all the time. I’ve always been good at winding people up. Whether that’s construed as being a Walter Mitty – somebody who actually believes what they’re saying – or actually being a joker (pauses)… I do wind people up. People would come over and ask, ‘How come you can sit here with all these girls and drink champagne?’ And we would just bullshit: ‘Oh, he’s an actor…’ That’s what we were doing. We were just having a laugh.
I also heard that you used to go around saying you’d inherited money from your grandmother?
Sometimes you’d meet a girl and I’d take her back and she’d go, ‘Fucking hell!’ Because it was a stunning apartment. We used to drive around in a Bentley, always had nice clothes and I always had money on me. I don’t tell people what I do to make my money. So, on one occasion, I might have said, ‘Oh, I inherited it,’ to get off that question.
So, were you rich?
I made a substantial amount of money in the property market when I was in the Czech Republic. The majority of it was on paper.
One unnamed friend was quoted as saying: “He was always embellishing stories and put on a show for everyone, it was bound to get him into trouble.”
(Laughs) I’ve always sailed close to the wind, mate. But it’s got me very far – trust me!
Other reports claim you lied about being a solicitor involved in murder cases, and that you claimed you had a degree in law.
I read that. My brother’s a solicitor in Scotland. But no, I never claimed to be a solicitor and definitely not involved in murder cases at all. I think that was in a Scottish newspaper. I don’t know where that came from!
So, you never lied about having a law degree when trying to recover money owed to a fashion stylist you were representing?
That’s quite true. In the fashion industry, everyone’s quite flaky and nobody signs contracts and all this sort of thing and I used to work in a capacity as an agent for a stylist. It was quite hard to draw payment from certain companies. This girl would go six months without being paid. So, yeah, I bullshitted on the phone. I knew my law, so instead of paying a lawyer a couple of hundred quid to retrieve money through the small claims court I would phone up and say, ‘I’m representing blah blah as her legal advisor’. Now, I never actually said solicitor – I said legal advisor. And as soon as I used to say that, I would get her paid.
The papers stated you were living with your mother at the time of your arrest.
That’s not true at all. I had a three bedroom flat – a penthouse on the Thames. My mother had her own property within the same complex; it’s called Imperial Wharf. She lives across the road from me. Calum Best used to live next door to me. Mark from Take That lived underneath me. And there was Didier Drogba. José Mourinho has a flat around the corner and Goldie Hawn has the penthouse. Lesley Ash is down there as well. I’d mostly bump into them at Marks & Spencer’s. I’ve already been back there a couple of weeks ago. When I was going into my apartment, a neighbour of mine kind of like looked at me and she said, ‘I thought you were in prison?’ I said, ‘You’re joking! Where did you read that? No – not me! (laughs)’
You seem to be suggesting that there’s a lot of fairytales out there about you.
Tell me about it! There was one article saying I was bisexual, which I’m not at all and never have been. The thing is, right, when all this broke people who were on the fringes of my circle started phoning up the newspapers trying to sell pictures and stories. The people who were close and dear to me just kept their mouth shut.
How did the bisexual story appear?
That came from a disgruntled ex-girlfriend. She was a stripper I met and I paid for a couple of dances with her. She was all over me and I took her home and fucked the shit out of her. She was always ringing me and turning up at my house and just fucking stalking me basically. She got on my nerves. I had enough of her so I just didn’t see her again. She kept on phoning, so I had a mate pick up the phone one night when we where down the pub and said I was bombed in Iraq! It was just a joke. I never thought she’d take it seriously, but she never fucking phoned again. Eight years later I pop up in the newspaper over all this stuff.
When that story about you allegedly being bisexual appeared, it was accompanied by a photograph of you wearing fetish garb.
I went to a party – an S&M fetish party – and got dressed up. We were all completely off our faces. I had just chucked on one of her outfits and went to this thing. So, this was her producing this photograph, trying to get money and claiming I was bisexual. You’ll notice that it was never men coming out and saying this – it was all women. So, that was her little joke on me, which I wasn’t too happy with. But nobody that I know believes it. And if I was, I would say I was.
Someone said you were a bit of a lady’s man?
Yeah. I’ve had my fair share of beautiful women. I like the ladies – always have done. This time I’m kind of like settled down with a girl that I’m in love with. When we used to go out you’d have trails of women trying to get on your table. I’d go to the expensive clubs where you walk in, you take a table, you get your champagne for the night, and it depends on what type of girls you’re going for – if you’re out on the pull you end up running up stupid bar bills. I had a network of friends from Dubai, Jordan, the Middle East, and they liked to come over and gamble and spend money and they liked to have girls around the table. It was that kind of scene, if you can get the picture.
What sort of girls?
You’d have a lot of want-to-be WAGs. All that sort of bollocks. I would never go there looking for a girlfriend. In many cases, I used to take girls back to my apartment and they’d just drop on their fucking knees and start sucking my cock! That was probably just because of the car I drove or the apartment I lived in and they thought I was something and they wanted to be a part of that.
The papers also said you were a regular cocaine user.
Regular cocaine user (laughs). That is hardly true. It’s complete bullshit. Yeah, I was a drinker and, yeah, I’ve dabbled but it was always light, moderate use. Or maybe on a night out at the weekend or whatever. I wasn’t a serious habitual daily user.
Ah, come on! I bet you loved your drugs?
I’ll tell you what, I did! At that time, I loved my Charlie. I’d go out, I’d drink champagne, I’d go to a nightclub, I’d snort a couple of lines, have girls around me. That’s part and parcel for most people’s night out. I don’t do it anymore. That was a period of my life where I enjoyed doing that. I’m not ashamed about it. Listen, the papers quoted me as having £100 a day drug habit – when we used to go around and buy Charlie, I’d buy a bag of it. We’d spend a couple of grand and chuck it on the table and that was there for the night. Yeah, I did enjoy it and I have no regrets about taking it.
I’m sure there’s offers of book and movie deals?
All in the pipeline, mate. Yeah. I’ve written a prison diary myself. In it, I shy away from the whole Royal aspect and it just gives a true account of life in Belmarsh. It’s more amusing than anything else. I read Jeffery Archer’s prison diary, which is just a load of rubbish. He never actually spent any time on the wing at all – he spent 22 days in the hospital unit – and describes a place that doesn’t actually exist! My little diary has turned into a little book. There’s a book in the offing with Giovanni. My other lawyer Simon Joe has written one. There’s lots of people been in contact. Production companies from the States talking about doing a movie, etc., so there’s lot of things in the pipeline.
Are you surprised this Royal aide got to keep his job?
I’m very surprised – but, I suppose, he knows so much, doesn’t he? They can’t let him go. There was a big dilemma going on about what they would do with him. They didn’t know whether to sack him – but if they sack him, is he going to talk? They had to gag the guy. How can they let him go? They’ve got to keep him in their pocket.
Do you think the British people should just get rid of the Royal Family?
Yeah (laughs). I do. I’m not a fan. A waste of money. Parasitical. Here’s a funny story, which is in the court transcripts – Sean sent me a joke on my mobile phone. The joke goes thus: A Nigerian turns up at Heathrow Airport and he’s pulled by Customs. The reason he’s pulled is because he can’t stop running on the spot. They take him to the back and let him talk to a doctor. The doctor asks him what the problem is. The Nigerian says, ‘I’ve been running on the spot for 28 days’. So, the doctor lays out two lines of white powder in front of him. The Nigerian snorts it and, all of a sudden, he stops running. He says to the doctor, ‘What was that? Was it Coke, heroin – what was it?’ He said, ‘No, it’s Persil – it stops colours running!’ It’s quite a good one that. The Royals all loved it.