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Wednesday, 22 December, 1999, 07:15 GMT
Fayed wins few plaudits in press




The morning papers are almost unanimously unimpressed by Mohamed al-Fayed's claim of "total vindication" after his High Court victory over former Tory MP Neil Hamilton.

Only The Mirror champions Mr al-Fayed, but all the papers agree that Mr Hamilton's life lies in ruins after the loss of his libel suit.

"Humiliated and now ruined" reads the Daily Telegraph front page headline.

The broadsheet is one of the few to offer any words of consolation to Mr Hamilton and his wife Christine.

'Sympathy'

In an editorial, entitled "A verdict but no victor", it says: "The Hamiltons...deserve some sympathy in their plight", adding that My Fayed's gloating on television was "odious".

The Guardian which first printed allegations that Mr Hamilton had taken cash for questions in 1994, devotes seven pages to the verdict.

Its front-page headline reads "A greedy, corrupt liar" in reference to Mr Hamilton.

Editor Alan Rusbridger argues in a full page article that defamation laws tempt corrupt politicians to try their luck in the courts.

'Trail of the century'

"The libel laws are stacked in favour of a plaintiff, so it is always worth a last roll of the dice," he says.

The Independent's front page headline declares "Fayed demolishes Hamilton in trial of the century".

It too feels there was no winner but argues that the entertainment the trial provided made a case for allowing television cameras into British courts to capture the drama.

The Times says the verdict has wider implications for MPs.

"The jury seems to have decided that certain outside commercial interests, or the perception that such interest might be courted by impatient and less than scrupulous MPs, are incompatible with proper service at Westminster," its editorial reads.

'Liar'

The Sun tabloid, which had dubbed the trial as Liar v Liar, says the verdict has not changed its view.

"I Think I Need To Liar Down" its front page headline reads.

Its editorial concludes that "the biggest losers are the public, who put their faith in MPs and dodgy businessmen".

"As Odious As Each Other" is the Daily Mail verdict.

In its editorial the right-wing paper decries the slump in standards of public life, declaring: "Drip by drip, the routine corruption that characterises so many European countries is tainting our public life."

Sword of truth

"Destroyed" is The Express headline and inside it focuses on Mr Hamilton's "battleaxe" wife Christine. But it concurs that there was no real winner in the case, describing the verdict as the "best of a bad job".

The Mirror alone trumpets Mr al-Fayed's victory and pictures Mr al-Fayed holding the sword of truth on its front page under the headline "Trust Me!"

It quotes Mr al-Fayed saying he will root out more corrupt MPs. and declares in its editorial: "He has done this country a massive public service."

The paper adds: "He revealed this disgusting web of sleaze in Westminster - and we should all be grateful."

It calls on Prime Minister Tony Blair to reward the Harrods boss by giving him a British passport.

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