A Saudi prince accused of murdering his manservant in a sexually motivated attack insisted they were “close friends” who only shared a double bed because the sofa bed was inferior, a court heard yesterday. Prince Saud Bin Abdulaziz Bin Nasir Al Saud told police he was not homosexual and that he and Bandar Abdulaziz were equals who had spent four months travelling the world.

He said the detectives did not understand the Saudi Arabian culture, where men regularly travel together as companions.

The prince’s explanation of the relationship came during his murder trial at the Old Bailey, which has heard how the Saudi royal employed gay escorts and took compromising photographs of Mr Abdulaziz on his mobile phone.

He was arrested only hours after Mr Abdulaziz’s battered body was discovered in the room they shared at the five-star Landmark Hotel in London on February 15 this year.

A post-mortem examination showed that the 32-year-old died from a combination of strangulation and neck and abdomen injuries.

When his body was discovered, Prince Saud tried to explain his wounds by saying Mr Abdulaziz was robbed on the Edgware Road, three weeks before his death, the court heard.

However, as he led detectives on a false walking tour to show them where it happened, other police officers discovered cctv footage of Prince Saud beating up Mr Abdulaziz in the hotel lift.

He was immediately arrested on suspicion of murder but refused to answer questions, instead giving the police a statement in which he explained why the pair shared a room.

“This way we could talk with each late into the evening, watch films and generally have fun,” said the 34-year-old.
“We preferred to save our money for shopping and evenings out.”

He said when they asked to change to a bigger room, only one with a double bed was available.
“We asked for another bed to be brought in but that couldn’t be made available.

“We did not use the sofa bed as, throughout our entire trip, Bandar and I had travelled as equals and I didn’t want him to feel any different to me for sleeping on a sofa bed.
“We had no issue at with sharing a bed.”
The prince, who described his job as working with his father, insisted he had a girlfriend in Saudi Arabia who he spoke to regularly.

“I would like to explain the cultural tradition behind my and Bandar’s trip. It is quite common in my country for men to travel with travelling companions.

“I am a wealthy Saudi, my father is nephew of the King. I therefore paid for the trip and our various excursions but Bandar and I were friends and in no respect was he subservient to me or I superior to him.”

Prince Saud denies murder and grievous bodily harm. The trial continues.