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Pair convicted of blackmailing British royal

/ Source: The Associated Press

Two men were convicted Friday and sentenced to five years in prison in the first plot to blackmail a member of Britain's royal family in more than a century.

Ian Strachan, 31, and Sean McGuigan, 41, were found guilty in a complicated blackmail scheme against the royal that featured allegations involving sex and drugs. The judge ordered that the royal's name be kept secret.

The jury agreed with prosecutors that the two men tried to blackmail the royal over a claim that he had sex with an aide at a party.

Prosecutor Mark Ellison said they demanded $99,000 from the royal — identified only as "Witness A" — for videotapes in which one of his employees made claims that "A" had performed a sex act on him at a party, egged on by a stripper.

He also suggested the royal had taken drugs.

In a statement read during the three-week trial, the royal said that he was aware of the alleged claims, but that they were untrue.

"A person in 'A's' position, with a reputation and business interests, is particularly susceptible to the publication of scurrilous and damaging material whether it is true or false," the judge said.

The two men were arrested Sept. 11 in a police sting operation at a London hotel. Both had said they were innocent.

Scotland Yard counterterrorism officers were called in to investigate the case, the first blackmail plot to target one of Britain's royals since Edward VII's son, the Duke of Clarence, paid 200 pounds for a series of love letters to a prostitute in 1891.