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Jon Braine reports for BBC News
"It could be another week before we hear from Neil Hamilton himself"
 real 28k

Friday, 26 November, 1999, 16:59 GMT
Al-Fayed cries in court
Mohamed al-Fayed: "I have to continue such trauma the rest of my life"

Harrods boss Mohamed al-Fayed was reduced to tears over his recent failure to be granted British citizenship during the libel case brought by Neil Hamilton.

Libel Trial
The Egyptian-born businessman has rebuffed allegations made by the former Tory MP during a High Court action which stemmed from allegations made by Mr al-Fayed over "cash-for-questions".

But under questioning by his own counsel, George Carman QC, Mr al-Fayed told the court of his "trauma" and apologised to the judge for his emotional outburst.

Opening his re-examination, Mr Carman told the court the Harrods boss had received a letter from the Home Office in May this year saying citizenship had been refused.

This was despite his substantial charitable works, his employment of more than 3,000 people, his "full and substantial" payment of UK taxes and his support for British commercial interests, he said.

Neil Hamilton, pictured with wife Christine, denies asking for cash Neil Hamilton, pictured with wife Christine, denies asking for cash
The refusal was based on Mr al-Fayed's responsibility for the employees who opened business rival Tiny Rowland's Harrods safety deposit box, and his admitted payments of cash and provision of benefits in kind to MPs, his counsel said.

"How do you feel about that?" asked Mr Carman.

Mr Al Fayed replied: "It's very sad and very unconvincing. For someone like me who has given 35 years of his life ..."

He shook his head and began to cry before Mr Carman said: "I think you've answered the question."

Mr al-Fayed then composed himself, and pointing at Mr Hamilton, said: "I have to sit in the face of crooked people. They know they are guilty. He knows he takes cash.

"I have to continue such trauma for the rest of my life. I'm sorry, your lordship."

Libel denied

Mr Hamilton is suing Mr al-Fayed over a Channel 4 Dispatches programme in January 1997.

In the film, he said the one-time Conservative MP for Tatton, Cheshire, had demanded and accepted cash payments, gift vouchers and a free holiday at the Paris Ritz, in return for asking parliamentary questions on behalf of Harrods.

But the Harrods boss denies libel, and pleads justification.

He has told the court Mr Hamilton received about 50,000 from him through a political lobbyist and further cash sums of between 40,000 and 60,000.

Mr al-Fayed said he could not say exactly how many face-to-face payments he made, and told the court it was "very difficult, but it's numerous visits", as well as the 12 visits listed in his diary.

He said he had a "definite" memory of paying Mr Hamilton, and that he was in "no doubt whatsoever" about it.

The court also heard that the Harrods boss had received a letter from a former employee addressing him with the Arab word for uncle.

'Sorry for my speeches'

Mr Al Fayed, who has denied acting vindictively towards former employees with whom he had fallen out, said the author of the letter had been in touch with him several times and was "very friendly" towards him.

The hearing was then adjourned for the lunchtime break and everyone stood as the judge prepared to leave the courtroom, but Mr al-Fayed had not quite finished.

He turned to the judge - who had repeatedly warned him against making speeches during his evidence - and said: "I just want to say thank you and say sorry for my speeches and thank the jury..."

Mr Carman interrupted him: "Mr al-Fayed, please, please..."

Mr Al Fayed then left the packed court.

The case continues.
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See also:
26 Nov 99 |  UK
Al-Fayed 'paid Hamilton for questions'
25 Nov 99 |  UK
Al-Fayed's fury over cash withdrawal questions
24 Nov 99 |  UK
Al-Fayed 'persecuted Harrods staff'
23 Nov 99 |  UK
Al-Fayed 'threatened John Major'
22 Nov 99 |  UK
Al-Fayed challenges Duke to sue
24 Nov 99 |  UK
Al-Fayed accused of false shipping claims
19 Nov 99 |  UK
Al-Fayed fury over death crash remarks
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