independent

Monday 21 April 2014

Tamara Ecclestone 'was warned about possible kiss and tell story'

British socialite Tamara Ecclestone leaves Southwark Crown Court

A NEWSPAPER warned socialite and model Tamara Ecclestone that an ex-fiance was trying to sell a story about her, a court heard today.

Alex West, a Sun journalist, met Ms Ecclestone, daughter of Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone, at a charity fundraiser a day after discussing the possible deal with Jakir Uddin, 20.

 

Uddin, a media studies student, was representing Derek Rose, 33, who went out with Ms Ecclestone in 2002 when she was 17, Southwark Crown Court heard.

 

Mr West said The Sun received a call from Uddin on November 13, 2011 alerting them to the possible kiss and tell story.

 

The journalist met Uddin at London's Cumberland Hotel that day where Uddin played a video of Rose, who used to be called Jonathan Ketterman, talking about his relationship with the celebrity.

 

No deal was struck as the journalist needed to speak with Rose directly but a confidentiality agreement was signed.

 

Mr West said: "The impression I got was he wanted a lot of money for his story though I don't remember him saying that."

 

Louis Wood, a photographer present at the meeting, said Uddin wanted "a life changing amount of money".

 

By coincidence, the next day Mr West met Ms Ecclestone, star of Channel 5's fly-on-the-wall show Billion Dollar Girl at a do for Great Ormond Street Children's Hospital.

 

He told her of Uddin and Rose's alleged plan to sell a story about her.

 

Two days later on November 16 Rose and Uddin sent an email to Ms Ecclestone's manager blackmailing her, the crown allege.

 

William Boyce QC said Rose orchestrated the email which claimed a tabloid newspaper had offered him £200,000 for his story.

 

But no newspaper had made such an offer.

 

The barrister said the email went on with "pernicious" implications about damage to Ms Ecclestone's reputation.

 

The defendants allegedly wrote they would be happy to discuss "a non-release fee" and sign a confidentiality contract.

 

But they also gave a deadline of the following Friday when they claimed they had to answer the tabloid's offer.

 

Rose, of Arlington Road, Camden, London, and Uddin, of Old Walsall Road, Birmingham, both deny blackmail.

 

After the couple split in August 2002, Rose made £10,000 by selling a story about Ms Ecclestone to the Mail on Sunday, the court has heard.

 

During his police interview, Uddin told officers that Bernie Ecclestone phoned his co-accused after his daughter reported the news to him.

 

Uddin said: "Jonny (Rose) told me Bernie phoned him up the following day, saying if he wanted money he should just ask Bernie for it rather than going to put a story out."

 

Uddin also told officers that Rose asked him to see if Ms Ecclestone was "interested" in purchasing the video he had made in which he talked about her.

 

Uddin said the Sun journalist "seemed like a dodgy guy, to be honest" and Rose was not happy with the idea of selling it to the tabloid.

 

That, coupled with a refusal from Ms Ecclestone to comply, made them think "we will leave it", he told officers, adding "no blackmail was intended".

 

In December 2011, news of a blackmail plot against Ms Ecclestone emerged in the national press.

 

Uddin worried and wanted to go to the police to explain, he said, but Rose told him not to.

 

He told police: "I genuinely got scared and thought, 'I am going to the police and tell them if an email's been sent I sent it but I didn't mean it to be blackmail', but he was like, 'just let it go as it is'."

 

Uddin, describing the email as "vile", said the idea was that if Ms Ecclestone thought a newspaper would pay them £200,000 for the story, she would have to offer more, a figure like £250,000, to protect her image and buy their silence.

 

Details of what the pair were allegedly threatening to sell have not been aired in open court.

 

However they have been given to the jury of seven men and five women.

 

Uddin said the situation "just looks terrible" and described himself as naive for being involved.

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