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Friday, 17 August, 2001, 11:28 GMT 12:28 UK
'Dinner guest' backs Hamiltons
Neil & Christine Hamilton
The Hamiltons: Investigation has taken its toll
A friend has publicly backed Neil and Christine Hamilton's alibi for the night they are accused of being involved in an alleged sex assault.

Tony Tucker - former head of communications at the Scotch Whiskey Association - said he and his daughter went to the couple's London flat for dinner on 5 May, the night the attack is alleged to have taken place in Ilford, Essex.

Max Clifford
Publicist Max Clifford was told of the allegation by the woman
A 28-year-old woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, has accused the Hamiltons of performing indecent acts on her as a man, 60, raped her.

The couple deny this and say they can account for "virtually every minute" of the day of the alleged attack, including the dinner party they say they had in Battersea.

Mr Tucker told BBC Radio 4's Today programme he arrived at the couple's flat with his daughter at 1930BST.

"It was a very enjoyable evening. We talked about old times and we talked about the present government," he said.


It was a very enjoyable evening

Tony Tucker
"The Hamiltons are looking for a house because they are having to sell their home in Cheshire and we talked about areas they might want to live. Things like that."

The couple were arrested when they attended Barkingside police station in east London last Friday and were released without charge after five hours of questioning.

Mr Tucker said the couple got in touch with him that weekend about providing an alibi. He said the police had not yet contacted him.

Other guests at the dinner party were also contacted by Today but declined to comment.

'Humiliating'

The allegations surfaced when the alleged victim contacted public relations consultant Max Clifford with serious allegations about the Hamiltons which she wanted made public.

When she told him about the rape allegation, Mr Clifford said he told her to go to the police.

Mrs Hamilton, 51, has described the whole experience as "ghastly and humiliating" but says she does not expect charges to be brought.

But the lawyer for the alleged victim, John Bridge, says she believes the case will go to trial.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Catherine Marston
"The strain is clearly showing"
Lawyer John Bridge
tells a news conference that his client believes the case will go to trial
Nicholas Freeman, lawyer for Barry Lehaney

See also:

13 Aug 01 | TV and Radio
Theroux shadows the Hamiltons
13 Aug 01 | UK
Peer seeks rape law change
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