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Tuesday, 21 August, 2001, 10:38 GMT 11:38 UK
Hamilton rape case man attacks publicity
Neil & Christine Hamilton
The Hamiltons have repeatedly denied the allegations
The man accused along with Neil and Christine Hamilton of committing serious sexual assault against a 27-year-old woman would not get a fair trial because of media publicity, his lawyer claims.

Barry Lehaney, 60, is alleged to have raped Nadine Milroy-Sloan, who has also accused the Hamiltons of sexually assaulting her during the alleged attack in Ilford, Essex, on 5 May.

There's a stench of money certainly wafting around the case which doesn't really assist the criminal investigation

Barry Lehaney's lawyer

Mr Lehaney's lawyer, Nick Freeman said that the "blaze of publicity" surrounding the case would prevent his client, who is due to be re-interviewed by police this week, from receiving a fair trial.

Mr Lehaney, who remains on police bail, has not been formally charged over the allegations.

Mr Freeman told BBC Radio 4's Today programme on Tuesday: "There's a stench of money certainly wafting around the case which doesn't really assist the criminal investigation, which is still ongoing so far as my client is concerned."

Mr Freeman also called for a change in the law to protect the anonymity of those accused of rape, unless they are convicted of the crime.

Nadine Milroy-Sloan
Nadine Milroy-Sloan has waived her right to anonymity

He said :"I think the law should be changed to enable those people who are accused to remain anonymous until such time as they are convicted unless possible the public interest demands otherwise".

Mr Freeman added his client, a chronic arthritis sufferer, had never met the Hamiltons.

His accuser Ms Milroy-Sloan, who has waived her right to anonymity, was again questioned for several hours by Essex police at Barkingside police station on Monday.

Ms Milroy-Sloan's publicist Max Clifford said that after her police interview his client was more convinced than ever that she would face the Hamiltons in court.

'Trial by media'

Former Conservative minister Mr Hamilton and his wife Christine have challenged police to drop the case following a newspaper report that mobile phone records showed they were nowhere near the scene of the alleged attack.

The police have dilly-dallied for so long anyway, so who knows how long it will take them to confirm the truth?

Christine Hamilton

The couple have previously said that they had been preparing a dinner party, drinking in Claridges hotel and then hosting the party that evening, and therefore could not possibly have been involved.

Mr Hamilton said his wife had called her mother on that evening.

He said: "She called her at around 5.44pm when we were on our way from our flat in Battersea to Claridges.

"It was probably just after we got into the car from the flat."

Mr Hamilton who was arrested with his wife and questioned for five hours has said they may bring legal action against the police.

Sunday papers
The couple say the "media circus" prompted police to speed up their inquiry

Both the Hamiltons and Ms Milroy-Sloan have been criticised by the Victims of Crime Trust for encouraging trial by media.

Trust director, Norman Brennan, said the public row could discourage future rape victims from coming forward.

"I condemn both Nadine Milroy-Sloan and the Hamiltons - who, in my opinion - have treated this matter like a pantomime, rather than the serious allegation that it is," Mr Brennan said.

The BBC's Danny Shaw
"The meeting... has not led to any sudden development in the police inquiry"
Nick Freeman, Barry Lehaney's solicitor
"The publicity has not been helpful to my client"
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