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Thursday, March 4, 1999 Published at 11:41 GMT


Charges dropped against Aitken friend

Jonathan Aitken: On remand awaiting sentence

Criminal charges against Said Ayas, a friend of former Conservative cabinet minister Jonathan Aitken, have been dropped.

[ image: Said Ayed leaving the Old Bailey]
Said Ayed leaving the Old Bailey
Mr Ayas - godfather to one of Aitken's children - had been jointly charged with Aitken with plotting to pervert the course of justice during an unsuccessful libel action against the Guardian newspaper and Granada Television in June 1997.

After the prosecution offered no evidence, the judge Mr Justice Potts entered verdicts of not guilty on the two charges against Mr Ayas.

Outside the Old Bailey in London, Mr Ayas said: "I am very relieved. It has been a very stressful time."

Aitken's guilty plea

Aitken has always denied the charge but last month admitted perjury during his High Court action.

He also pleaded guilty to intending to pervert the course of public justice by drafting a witness statement for his daughter Victoria which he knew was false and submitting it to the High Court.

Aitken, 56, had denied charges alleging conspiracy to pervert the course of justice and doing acts tending and intending to pervert the course of public justice.

The former cabinet minister has been remanded for sentence until June. Mr Ayas, 56, a former business associate of Aitken, was also charged with doing acts tending and intending to pervert the course of public justice between 1995 and 1997. He had denied both charges he faced.

  • The Mirror reported on Thursday that Mr Aitken suffered a minor stroke 10 days ago.

    Mr Aitken's solicitor said later it involved veins and blood vessels bursting behind one of his eyes.

    It caused "an immediate severe loss of vision in his left eye together with discomfort and headaches", said Mr Coleman. "Mr Aitken is still convalescing but it is anticipated and hoped by those close to him that he will make a full recovery."

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