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Thursday, July 29, 1999 Published at 17:20 GMT 18:20 UK

World: Americas

Clinton in Paula Jones pay-out

Mrs Jones alleged that Mr Clinton made an unwanted pass at her in 1991

US President Bill Clinton has been ordered to pay Paula Jones's lawyers nearly $90,000 to compensate for false testimony about his relationship with Monica Lewinsky.

The BBC's Paul Reynolds reports: "The president might regard it as money well spent"
The pay-out follows an unprecedented contempt ruling delivered against the president last April for giving misleading statements about his affair with the former White House intern in the civil lawsuit brought by Mrs Jones.

Mrs Jones had alleged that while governor of Arkansas, Mr Clinton had made an unwanted sexual advance towards her in a Little Rock hotel room in 1991.

US District Judge Susan Webber Wright said that Mr Clinton had wilfully disobeyed the Arkansas court's order to be truthful.

She ordered him to pay $89,483.93 to cover legal and other plaintiffs' fees in the case and $1,202 to the court for her own travel expenses.

The judge said in her order: "The Court takes no pleasure in imposing sanctions on this nation's president, and no doubt like many others, grows weary of this matter."

The money is in addition to the $850,000 the president has paid Mrs Jones to settle her sexual harassment lawsuit, despite never admitting any wrongdoing.

'False, misleading answers'

The BBC's Washington Corresponden, Paul Reynolds, says President Clinton's testimony in the Jones case put his political future on the line - leading to his impeachment by the House and a Senate trial that acquitted him.

Judge Webber Wright said in her April ruling that there was "clear and convincing evidence" that during the deposition the president had given "false, misleading and evasive answers that were designed to obstruct the judicial process."

He was asked at the deposition about his relationship with Ms Lewinsky, a former White House intern.

It was then that he testified: "I have never had sexual relations with Monica Lewinsky."

The president was later forced to acknowledge an "inappropriate intimate relationship" with the intern after his DNA was found on her dress.

'Excessive' fees

The Dallas law firm that represented Mrs Jones had submitted bills for $437,825 and the Virginia-based Rutherford Institute, which assisted in the case, asked for $53,333.

[ image: This is not the first attack Judge Webber Wright has launched against the president]
This is not the first attack Judge Webber Wright has launched against the president
But the judge said in her order that the lawyers' claims were "excessive and must be reduced."

She ruled that the legal teams had seemed to justify their fees by arguing that sanctions should be imposed to punish the president's misconduct.

"Sanctions are not imposed to punish ... but must be based upon evidence of actual loss," the judge said.

She also rejected the lawyers' argument that they should be reimbursed for all the legal work they did after the president made his deposition.

As the case had already been settled for $850,000, "it is appropriate to limit fees and expenses to those incurred" as a result of the president's contempt of court.

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