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Tuesday, 30 November, 1999, 18:05 GMT
Al-Fayed's ex-secretary 'not lying'
Mohamed al-Fayed Mohamed al-Fayed: Offered Ms Bozek legal role

Mohamed al-Fayed's former secretary has denied that she was close enough to the Harrods owner to lie for him.

Libel Trial
Alison Bozek, who is now a solicitor, claims she saw Mr al-Fayed put a "wodge" of cash into an envelope for MP Neil Hamilton.

And under cross-examination during Mr Hamilton's High Court libel action against Mr al-Fayed, she said she would not risk jeopardising her legal career by lying for her former employer.

She said: "It's taken me nine years and I wouldn't risk that for anybody, I can assure you."

Ms Bozek worked for Mr al-Fayed for 13 years before going into the law in 1994.

On the ninth day of the libel action, QC Desmond Browne had suggested to her that her relationship with Mr al-Fayed "remains sufficiently close for you to be prepared to lie for him".

I wouldn't jump in and put myself into this sort of situation unless I was telling the truth. I do not fabricate evidence
Alison Bozek
Former Tatton MP Mr Hamilton is suing Mr al-Fayed over his claims in a Channel 4 Dispatches programme in January 1997 that Mr Hamilton had demanded and accepted cash payments, gift vouchers and a free holiday in the Paris Ritz in return for asking parliamentary questions.

Ms Bozek said it was "absolute rubbish" for Mr Browne to suggest she had realised Mr al-Fayed's allegations were unlikely to be believed if they were based solely on his own account of face-to-face payments to Mr Hamilton.

Ms Bozek said: "I wouldn't jump in and put myself into this sort of situation unless I was telling the truth. I do not fabricate evidence."

Ms Bozek also rejected Mr Browne's suggestion that she, Mr al-Fayed and two other employees agreed to provide a "tale" which they all knew to be untrue to give the Harrods chief the corroboration which was missing from his evidence.

neil and christine hamilton Neil and Christine Hamilton: "Took advantage of Mr al-Fayed"
Earlier, Ms Bozek said she had turned down the offer of a job in Mr al-Fayed's legal department when Mr Hamilton issued libel proceedings against the Harrods owner.

She said she would not be able to give independent evidence if she had been working for Mr al-Fayed.

Mr Browne asked Ms Bozek about evidence she had given to Sir Gordon Downey's inquiry in which she said that at the time of the Hamiltons' visit to the Paris Ritz in September 1987, she had started to feel that the couple were taking advantage of Mr al-Fayed.

Ms Bozek said that while many people "politely declined" Mr al-Fayed's offers of trips to the Ritz, the Hamiltons "were very ready to jump in and accept" the invitation.

The hearing was adjourned until Wednesday.

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See also:
29 Nov 99 |  UK
Hamilton took 'wodge' of cash
27 Nov 99 |  UK
The al-Fayed libel trial
26 Nov 99 |  UK
Al-Fayed cries in court
23 Nov 99 |  UK
Al-Fayed 'threatened John Major'
24 Nov 99 |  UK
Al-Fayed accused of false shipping claims
24 Nov 99 |  UK
Al-Fayed 'persecuted Harrods staff'
25 Nov 99 |  UK
Al-Fayed's fury over cash withdrawal questions
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