The trial of a man accused of blackmailing an Oxford gene and cell therapy company for £300,000 worth of Bitcoin has been delayed. 

Ashley Liles, of Fleetwood, Hertfordshire, is charged with unauthorised computer access with intent to commit an offence and blackmail. 

According to a court file, the 27-year-old allegedly gained access to an unauthorised computer between February 28, 2018, and March 13, 2018. 

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He is accused of using this computer to blackmail Oxford BioMedica after making an ‘unwarranted demand’ for £300,000 in Bitcoin, which is a virtual currency.

Liles also stands accused of unauthorised modification of computer material between February 16, 2018, and March 13, 2018.

He denies the charges.

Liles’s trial was due to start at Reading Crown Court on Monday, July 4 but the hearing failed to go ahead after the defendant’s barrister did not appear. 

The court heard how the advocate was participating in the national strikes organised by criminal defence barristers.

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The legal representatives went on strike last week in a row over legal aid funding.

The strike action is intended to last for four weeks, beginning with walkouts on Monday, June 27 and Tuesday, June 28, increasing by one day each week until a five-day strike from Monday, July 18 to Friday, July 22.

Liles’s trial is set to get underway on Thursday, July 7.