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BBC's Catherine Marston
reports on the libel trial
 real 28k

Thursday, 16 December, 1999, 18:53 GMT
Hamilton 'sacrificed truth and honour'

Mohamed al-Fayed denies libel

Former Tory minister Neil Hamilton sacrificed truth and honour for his own self-preservation, the cash for questions libel trial has heard.

George Carman QC, for Mohamed al-Fayed, was making his closing speech in the case brought against the Harrods owner by former Tory minister Neil Hamilton.

Mr Hamilton is suing Mr al-Fayed over allegations he made on a Channel 4 programme the then MP had corruptly demanded and accepted cash payments, gift vouchers and a free holiday at the Paris Ritz in return for asking parliamentary questions on behalf of the Harrods boss.

Mr al-Fayed denies libel and pleads justification.

Neil Hamilton's flaw was "money"
Mr Carman made his closing speech on Thursday after the jury had heard from Mr Hamilton's QC, Desmond Browne.

He said: "Truth and honesty have all been sacrificed on the alter of self preservation.

"He has learned to be deceitful and learned to conceal matters in terms of his financial affairs."

Mr Carman went on: "It is with regret that one has to say this, but say to you in all seriousness, that the evidence in this case establishes that this former honourable member has been demonstrated in this court to have no honour left."

There were two key words which epitomised Neil Hamilton's conduct, "greed and concealment", said Mr Carman.

Libel Trial
Mr Carman said the jury might think how Mr Hamilton dealt with money, "how you make it and how you conceal the true circumstances in which you make it", was a key to the whole case.

The reason for all Mr Hamilton's "acts of deviousness" was there was always something to hide.

"It's money, you see, that's his flaw."

Earlier, Mr Browne had told the jury that greed was not the same as corruption.

Mr Carman told them that he was right but "it's the next-door neighbour".

He continued: "If you are greedy, you are more easily corrupted than if you are not greedy.

"And this husband and wife unhappily demonstrated through The Ritz a very unattractive greediness."

pa Mr al-Fayed was questioned about Dodi's death
Mr Carman told the jury that the case was important for three aspects.

First, it was obviously important to the two principal and high profile protagonists, Mr al-Fayed and Mr Hamilton.

The case was also of "great importance" to Mr al-Fayed's secretaries Alison Bozek, Iris Bond and the Harrods boss's doorman Philip Bromfield, who had been accused of conspiring to fabricate evidence and perjury.

Third, the case was important because the jury would determine "what constitutes corrupt activity on the part of a member of parliament - what the public, and you are representing the public, are entitled to expect from the conduct of a member of parliament, particularly in his dealings with money, his openness or his deviousness, as the case may be."

He added: "In the House of Commons members of parliament refer to each other in the house as `honourable members'.

"One of the questions you will be asking yourself, I hope, when we have reviewed the evidence is, where now stands the honour of Mr Neil Hamilton in this court?"

Mr Carman said a "strategy of smear" had been used to try to discredit Mr al-Fayed during cross-examination.

Sadly, "the tragic death of his own son and Diana, Princess of Wales, in a car crash was thought fit and appropriate by Mr Hamilton, presumably instructing his leading counsel, to question Mr al-Fayed at length".

The cross-examination of Mr al-Fayed on all aspects of his life was to "create and build up against him an irresistible climate of prejudice" and occasionally it almost had a racist element, said Mr Carman.

The case was adjourned until Friday.

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See also:
16 Dec 99 |  UK
Lawyer tells of 'Hamilton's tragedy'
16 Dec 99 |  UK
Full house for court jesters
14 Dec 99 |  UK
Fayed called 'biggest crook in town'
15 Dec 99 |  UK
The al-Fayed libel trial
13 Dec 99 |  UK
Christine Hamilton in tears

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