THE CRUEL leader of the £5,000 blackmail plot once served breakfast to the future Justice Secretary.

During Taylor Edwards’ trial for blackmail and robbery, Swindon jurors last month heard the 24-year-old was a hardworking employee at the Old Bank restaurant on Wood Street.

Former boss Manni Madhani wrote that Edwards was “honest and reliable”, to the extent he was trusted with the business’s VIP customers. He had even served South Swindon MP Robert Buckland’s breakfast meetings.

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Mr Buckland served as the government’s Solicitor General from 2014 until he was promoted first to prisons minister in May 2019 before getting pushed into the Cabinet as Justice Secretary in July.

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Yesterday, Swindon Crown Court heard Edwards was a hard-worker who had no previous convictions on his record. He had rarely been out of a job. Chris Smyth, defending, said those who knew him well were at a loss to explain why he had decided to blackmail his victim. His parents were supportive of him: “When I say this offence has been as inexplicable as it has been deeply disappointing that’s an understatement.”

Jailing him for more than three years, Judge Jason Taylor QC told Edwards: “You are clever man with a very cruel streak if it suits your purposes.”