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Monday, June 24, 2024 | Back issues
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Ex-Lover of Duchess Sues News Corp. for $50M

LOS ANGELES (CN) - A man who dated the duchess of York says News Corp. tried to entrap him into getting drugs and prostitutes for an undercover reporter two decades ago.

In 1992, John Bryan was shown in the British tabloid the Daily Mirror sunbathing with Sarah Ferguson, the duchess of York.

Bryan says that, three years after the story broke and long after he was a "figure of any public interest," Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation sent undercover reporters to Los Angeles to entrap Bryan into offering them prostitutes and cocaine. In return, they offered him financing for a hotel he was promoting, according to his lawsuit.

"News Corp. falsely represented to Bryan that [Mazher] Mahmood's name was Sheikh Mahmud Al-Karim, that he was a Saudi billionaire, and that he would invest substantial sums of money in Bryan's hotel venture. News Corp. asked Bryan to procure cocaine and prostitutes for the sheikh. Bryan in no uncertain terms refused," the complaint states.

According to Bryan, News Corp. ran a story about him offering the drugs and prostitutes, splashing it on the front page of Murdoch's News of the World.

Mahmood was the subject of a BBC investigation that was broadcast on the Panorama news show last year. Bryan says that a former News Corp. employee told the BBC about the failed attempt to entrap him.

The BBC asked Bryan to take part in the show and talk about the scheme and its victims, he claims.

"News Corp. attempted to halt the BBC's broadcast of its expose, and in the course of doing so, re-published the libel to the BBC and disclosed that it had made illegal recordings of telephone conversations with Bryan," the complaint states. "The BBC aired the show and the libel was once again re-published during the television broadcast."

Bryan sued News Corp., its affiliates and Mahmood. The Oct. 1 complaint for libel, invasion of privacy and intentional interference with prospective economic advantage also names New Corp. employee Ali Malik as a defendant.

"News Corp. regularly engaged in criminal activity to manufacture scandals so that it could sell newspapers. Such illegal conduct included industrial level phone hacking, bribing of public officials, entrapment schemes, and unlawful recordings of private conversations," the 13-page Los Angeles County lawsuit states. "The vile conduct giving rise to this lawsuit includes a failed entrapment scheme, unlawful recordings, and a malicious libel."

Bryan seeks $50 million in damages. He is represented by David Affeld and Christopher Grivakes of Affeld Grivakes Zucker in Los Angeles.

News Corp. spokesman Jim Kennedy declined to comment on the lawsuit.

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