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The 2007 royal blackmail plot was a UK scandal in which two men attempted to blackmail a relation of the British Royal Family. The relative of the royal family was alleged to have been involved in activities involving drug taking, and performing sexual activity on a male aide.[1]

Buckingham Palace refused to comment on the situation after The Sunday Times reported the story on 28 October 2007.[2][3] A spokesperson for the palace only stated that it was a police matter and that Scotland Yard was investigating.[3]

The two defendants in the case were named as Sean McGuigan and Paul Aðalsteinsson.[4] McGuigan, a recovering alcoholic, had previous criminal convictions and was originally from Ireland with republican connections. He was released from prison under the Good Friday Agreement in 1998.[5][6] Aðalsteinsson held an Icelandic passport.[7] Both men were arrested on 11 September 2007 charged under the Theft Act 1968 and was held in custody in Belmarsh Prison.[8] They first applied for bail on 2 November, but this was refused.[8] An appeal was also turned down on 8 December.[8] They pleaded not guilty at the pre-trial hearing on 20 December 2007; the trial began on 14 April 2008.[9]

Both men were convicted on 2 May 2008 sentenced to five years in prison.[10] It was the first case of royal blackmail for more than a century, but the expensive trial was described as an "overreaction".[6]

The trial was branded a "a joke" and "a farce". Ronald Thwaites QC, described the evidence against the defendants as "insubstantial, insignificant, and incomplete," saying that, "you cannot convict people on evidence as poor as this."[11] Police had obtained £50,000 in cash from public funds which was being held nearby by a "money man" to "flash" at the men should they make a demand for it, a demand which apparently never came, the court was told. The pair were arrested in a sting operation at a London hotel by undercover police officers from the Metropolitan police's counter-terrorism unit.[6]

Aðalsteinsson who was Icelandic[7] - also used the names Paul Stein, Charles Goldstein[4] was appealing the conviction until he was found dead at his flat in South Kensington, West London[12] on Christmas Eve in 2016 as reported by The Sun on 2 March 2017.[13]

A public inquest[4] into Aðalsteinsson's death on 30 June 2017 heard he became a recreational drug user, developed an alcohol dependency issue and latterly became addicted to prescription drugs due to the amputation of a leg. He was found collapsed on Christmas Eve 2016 after suffering respiratory failure brought on by multi-drug poisoning.[4][12]The whereabouts of the other defendant in the case, Sean McGuigan, is not known.[citation needed]


  1. ^ "British royal blackmail". CBS News. 2007-10-28. Archived from the original on 6 May 2008. Retrieved 3 May 2008.
  2. ^ "Royal 'targeted by blackmailers'". BBC. 28 October 2007. Archived from the original on July 26, 2008. Retrieved 2007-12-08.
  3. ^ a b tvnz (2007-10-28). "Royal blackmail plot uncovered" (article). tvnz. Archived from the original on 30 October 2007. Retrieved 2007-10-28.
  4. ^ a b c d
  5. ^
  6. ^ a b c
  7. ^ a b
  8. ^ a b c "No bail for royal 'blackmail' man". BBC. 7 December 2007. Archived from the original on 9 December 2007. Retrieved 2007-12-08.
  9. ^ "2 Men Deny Royal Blackmail Attempt". The Associated Press. 20 December 2007. Retrieved 3 May 2008.[permanent dead link]
  10. ^ BBC News report
  11. ^ Orr, James (2008-05-01). "Royal blackmail case is a farce, jury told". The Guardian. Retrieved 2015-09-20.
  12. ^ a b
  13. ^ Wright, Paul (2 March 2017). "Man who tried to blackmail Royal Family member over gay sex claim found dead". International Business Times. Retrieved 2 April 2017.