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Saturday, March 6, 1999 Published at 12:54 GMT


Aitken wins delay over 2m libel bill

Jonathan Aitken: Libel case collapsed

The High Court has granted former Tory Cabinet minister Jonathan Aitken an order preventing anyone taking legal action to recover money from him in the next fortnight.

The move comes as the Guardian newspaper and Granada Television continue to pursue Aitken for the 2m he was ordered to pay them as a result of a failed libel action.

'No surprise'

Mr Aitken, 56, is to be sentenced in June after admitting perjury and perverting the course of justice.

A Granada Television spokesman said: "This latest manoeuvre comes as no surprise and is entirely consistent with Mr Aitken's approach to honouring his obligations.

"We will obviously press our claims as a principle creditor."

The Guardian declined to comment.

Mr Aitken's solicitor, Milton Silverman, said he was unable to comment.

1,000 hotel bill

In 1995 Mr Aitken resigned as chief secretary to the treasury to defend himself from accusations that - as minister in charge of defence procurement in 1993 - he allowed an Arab friend to pay his 1,000 bill for a stay at the Ritz Hotel in Paris.

Accepting the payment would have been in contravention of the bible of government conduct, Questions of Procedure for Ministers.

[ image: Said Ayas: Case dropped]
Said Ayas: Case dropped
His case collapsed in 1997. Charges were then brought against Mr Aitken, the only former Cabinet minister to be faced with serious criminal charges in living memory, in May 1998.

The move came after charges against Mr Aitken's former business associate, Said Ayas, 56, were dropped.

He faced two charges of plotting to pervert the course of justice during the libel action, but the case was dropped after the Crown Prosecution Service offered no evidence.

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