UAE embassy theft and blackmail: Security staff in court

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image captionCash and documents were stolen from the UAE embassy in 2018

Security officers have appeared in court over the theft of cash and documents from an embassy and a £3m blackmail plot to return them.

Lee Hurford, 48, from Leeds, is accused of stealing from the United Arab Emirates' London embassy in Belgravia.

The alleged offences happened in September 2018 while Mr Hurford was employed there.

Co-defendant Dean Manister, 50, was then head of security at the building and faces charges including blackmail.

Mr Hurford, who was employed as a close protection officer in the building, he is accused of stealing cash between 14 and 15 September 2018.

He is also accused of stealing paperwork, documents, receipts and an identity card, and orchestrating a £3m blackmail plot for the return of the sensitive items.

Mr Hurford appeared at Southwark Crown Court where he denied two counts of theft, one of burglary and one of conspiracy to blackmail.

Mr Manister, of Colchester in Essex, denies one count of aiding and abetting burglary, one count of handling stolen goods and one charge of conspiracy to blackmail.

The men appeared via video link at the hearing where a two-week trial was set for 4 April 2022.

They were both granted bail.

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