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A man accused of trying to extort money from former leading jockey Jamie Osborne told a court that he thought he had police backing.

Robert Harrington, 58, told the Old Bailey he was working as an undercover agent for detectives investigating a horse doping and race fixing scandal.

He had specialised in gaining the confidence of criminals by pretending to be corrupt during his work as a detective with Thames Valley Police before his retirement in 1990.

And when he was introduced to an officer from the Organised Crime Group by a mutual friend, he offered his services, he told the jury.

Harrington denies dishonestly obtaining £500 by deception from Osborne in 1998, and corruptly soliciting £2,000 from him claiming he could influence a police investigation.

Osborne, 32, now a Lambourn-based trainer, had been arrested along with other jockeys after horses were found to be doped. He was never charged.

The prosecution allege Harrington approached the jockey saying he could influence the police inquiry by claiming he could bribe an officer.

Osborne went to Scotland Yard and agreed to be taped and videoed in order to trap Harrington, Sir John Nutting, QC, prosecuting has told the jury.

Harrington told the court yesterday that he met the jockey after doing some private investigator work for trainer Kim Bailey in relation to his divorce.

After a meeting with Det Sgt Richard Wall, Harrington said it was clear to him that the officer wanted him to 'infiltrate' the racing world.

'He wanted me to get inside Mr Osborne, to provide information to crack Mr Osborne,' he said.

He mentioned 'finance' when the jockey asked him what the police officer's motivation would be for helping him - and found the jockey seized on it.

Harrington said he intended handing the money over to DS Wall along with other documents at the end of the inquiry.

He felt he was on the verge of a major breakthrough when he went to Mr Osborne's cottage in August - and was arrested after a further discussion about money took place.

'I felt that I had made a fair inroad with Mr Osborne and could produce what Mr Wall wanted,' he said.

The trial was adjourned until Monday.