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Sunday, 26 December, 1999, 16:20 GMT
Hamilton to appeal libel verdict

Neil and Christine Hamilton The Hamiltons may be prepared to fight on

Neil Hamilton is planning to appeal against the verdict in his libel case against Harrods boss Mohamed al-Fayed, after facing crippling legal bills.

Libel Trial
The Tory former minister - who was defeated last week in the High Court - was said to believe important facts were withheld from the jury during the trial.

He has more than 1m worth of costs of his own to meet as well, while his assets - including two homes - are thought not to exceed 1m.

He told the Sunday Times he felt sure that he could raise sufficient funds to mount an attempt to overturn the court's ruling in the Court of Appeal.

"We are talking about 40,000 or 50,000 and that sort of money would be easily available if there was a prospect of a retrial," he

Mr al-Fayed said Christmas had come early when he won
"We are looking for new ways to go on the attack. We had a lot of material we were not allowed to adduce as evidence."

Mr Hamilton has confirmed that he is to take legal advice after Christmas on whether he has grounds to appeal against the High Court verdict.

The Sunday Times said Mr Hamilton conceded that evidence relating to a 10,000 payment he received from Mobil Oil had destroyed his case.

But he said the judge "should not have admitted it", and had placed undue weight on it in his summing up.

However the newspaper reports that Mr al-Fayed, who was sued after alleging Mr Hamilton had corruptly acepted cash payments, has "indicated that he will resist any appeal".

Libel specialists told the Sunday Times Mr Hamilton would need to show "serious flaws" in the trial to stage an appeal and would probably be required to "post surety to cover Fayed's costs".

'Broken man'

A Conservative Central Office spokesman said on Sunday the party could see little point in Mr Hamilton launching an appeal.

"Of course it is quite within Neil Hamilton's rights to appeal against last week's verdict," the spokesman said in a statement.

"But as the party chairman (Michael Ancram) has made clear, we now regard this matter as closed, and feel there is little to be gained from this affair being dragged through the courts for further months, if not years."

Last week the former minister admitted he was a "broken man". The jury rejected his claim that he had been libelled by Mr al-Fayed, who had accused him ofaccepting cash for asking parliamentary questions.

The trial judge ordered that the names of those who contributed more than 5,000 must be passed to Mr al-Fayed's lawyers within 28 days.

But one backer - maverick peer the Earl of Portsmouth - has said he will resist any attempt to recover more of the outstanding costs
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See also:
23 Dec 99 |  UK
Hamilton backer to fight cash demand
21 Dec 99 |  UK
Hamilton loses libel case
21 Dec 99 |  UK Politics
Profile: Neil Hamilton
21 Dec 99 |  UK
Hamilton: I'm broke
21 Dec 99 |  UK
Fayed's faith in British justice restored
21 Dec 99 |  UK
Hamilton verdict - reaction at-a-glance
21 Dec 99 |  UK
Mobil may have sealed Hamilton's fate
21 Dec 99 |  UK
Profile: Mohamed al-Fayed

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