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Saturday, November 14, 1998 Published at 01:11 GMT

Clinton settles Jones sex case

Paula Jones is set to receive $850,000 from the president

US President Bill Clinton has agreed to pay Paula Jones $850,000 (500,000) to drop her sexual harassment lawsuit.

The president will be glad to see the back of the case - Paul Royal reports
The case, which was originally dismissed, was being reviewed by an appeal court, and a ruling was expected in December.

Lawyers for both sides signed a deal for a cash payment which includes no apology from Mr Clinton.

[ image: Paula Jones: Ready to drop case unlike Kenneth Starr]
Paula Jones: Ready to drop case unlike Kenneth Starr
"Paula is very pleased that it's finally over," her lawyer Bill McMillan said.

Mr Clinton's lawyer, Robert Bennett, said the president "remains certain" that Mrs Jones' allegations are baseless but wanted to get the dispute behind him.

"The president has decided he is not prepared to spend one more hour on this matter," Bennett said.

No admission, and no apology - Stephen Sackur reports
Under the settlement Mr Clinton will pay Mrs Jones within 60 days.

Mrs Jones filed a sexual harassment lawsuit in 1994 claiming that in 1991 Mr Clinton, then governor of Arkansas, exposed himself to her in a Little Rock hotel room, and asked for oral sex.

Mrs Jones alleged that by refusing Mr Clinton, her career as a state employee suffered.

[ image: President Bill Clinton: no apology]
President Bill Clinton: no apology
The president has consistently denied any wrongdoing, and the case was dismissed by an Arkansas judge in April.

But investigations in relation to it had already unveiled details of what would become the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

It was Mr Clinton's sworn deposition for the Jones case, in which he denied having sexual relations with former White House intern Miss Lewinsky, that led to the impeachment hearings that will begin next week in the House Judiciary Committee.

"A legal millstone released from around the president's neck" - Stephen Sackur
Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr alleges that Clinton lied under oath in the Jones deposition and otherwise obstructed justice by trying to keep his affair with Miss Lewinsky secret.

Miss Lewinsky and her relationship with the president might have overshadowed the Jones case, but it did not diminish the cash payment Mrs Jones is set to receive.

[ image: Abe Hirschfeld and his $1m cheque - payment is subject to settlement]
Abe Hirschfeld and his $1m cheque - payment is subject to settlement
She had already accepted a $1m offer from the tycoon Abe Hirschfeld to help settle the matter.

But she refused a $700,000 deal negotiated between her lawyers and the President's attorney, Robert Bennet.

She had been asking for $1m, which she later reduced to $950,000.

Commentators at the time said that with the Democrats' good showing in the mid-term elections, Mr Clinton might lose interest in settling the case altogether.

In the end, however, Mr Clinton's legal team have increased their offer.

But correspondents say that the money Mrs Jones is set to receive will not be enough to cover her soaring legal costs.

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