You ask the questions: Mohamed al-Fayed

(Such as: Mohamed al-Fayed, do you still believe that the car crash in Paris was a conspiracy?)
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Mohamed al- Fayed was born in Egypt in 1933 and educated at private school, then at the university of Alexandria. He has been chairman of Harrods since 1994. He also owns the Ritz in Paris, the late Duke of Windsor's house in France, a castle in Scotland and an estate in Surrey. Last week he agreed to pay damages over the breaking open of Mr Rowland's safe deposit box. Mr Fayed is married and has four children.

Are you a good Muslim? Do you follow the tradition of the Koran?

Angela West, Skegness

I try hard to be. I try to do some good each day and use my wealth to benefit others.

Why do you swear so much?

Chris Lovell, Shepherd's Bush

Do I?

Are you on good terms with Neil Hamilton these days?

Diane Church, Westminster


Neil who?

How do you feel about the outcome in court last week re Tiny Rowland's deposit box?

Christina Leonard, Dorset

I have mixed feelings. Regret that Tiny's death robbed me of the chance to defend myself properly, but relief that I can now draw a line under 14 years of bitterness.

Do you still believe the car crash in Paris was a conspiracy? How much have you spent investigating it?

Iain Compton, Portsmouth

I have not changed my view about the crash. There are so many unanswered questions. The French inquiry has already taken 14 months. Would it really have taken so long if the crash were a simple, straightforward accident? I have great faith in Judge Stephan. He is a man of great compassion and has been very thorough. I have to know that what happened to my beloved son Dodi and my great friend Princess Diana was God's will and not the will of others. Because of this I do not count the cost of my own inquiries.

Do you consider yourself a good friend of Peter Preston (editorial director of the Guardian Media Group)?

Julia Nardine, Exmouth

Certainly. Peter is a man of great principle. He was courageous and steadfast throughout the cash for questions row.

What paper do you read every day?

Jasper Lilley, Clapham

All of them, but I believe very little.

How do you hope people will remember you?

Ann Thompson, Rhyl

As a man who did some good and brought some colour, entertainment and happiness into people's lives.

What's your biggest regret in life?

William Longley, Hammersmith

My first marriage. I was too young.

Why do you think British MPs always end up in sleazy sex- and drug-type scandals? Have you ever been to Clapham Common?

AL Forsyth

I think the general standard of people entering public life has gone down, and the press are far more prurient. But the sad case of Ron Davies shows the tragic consequences of cruel parenting. It's a truism, but if we were all kinder to our children we would have a lot more happy, well adjusted adults. I think Battersea heliport is probably the nearest I have ever been to Clapham Common.

Who do you dislike most at the moment, and why?

Lewis Morley

I know a few people who have taken a strong dislike to me, but I hate no one and try hard not to harbour grudges. Even the late Tiny Rowland, my arch rival in the business world for many years, was someone whose company I could enjoy socially. We got along quite well and teased each other mercilessly. We enjoyed each other's sense of humour. I was saddened by his death and wrote to his widow.

Who is your favourite British comedian, and why do you find him/her so funny?

Tina Stanforth, Camden

Harry Enfield - he is so wonderfully versatile and subtle in puncturing the pomposity of our politicians.

With your "unauthorised" biography selling well, are you selling it in Harrods? If yes, is it reduced in price? Are you planning an official biography?

Susan Wakefield, Stroud

The unauthorised biography is not selling well and I certainly see no reason why I should use my own store to promote a malicious work of faction. My true life story is well advanced and should be published next spring.

As a vertically challenged person, do you feel that you are more driven to strive for world domination (eg Hitler, Napoleon) in comparison to competitors who by necessity have to look down on you?


At 5ft 10in I do not regard myself as vertically challenged. I am far taller (and more handsome!) than I appear on TV. In any event I have never subscribed to the view that size counts.

Don't you think that it is inappropriate for short people, especially yourself, to wear Prince of Wales check suits?

Ian Tyszkiewicz

As they say in the House, I refer you to my previous answer. My own taste is, of course, impeccable.

When and where did you see your first football match?

Ivor Davies, Merthyr Tydfil

In Alexandria, when I was 12. The game was Wolves vs Royal Navy.

What happened to the beautiful bronze lifts in Harrods, and why were they removed?

Michael Hugh, Nayland

The six magnificent lifts to which you refer were removed to make way for the Egyptian escalator in the centre of Harrods. They are all listed and are now in storage. They are in good condition and we have plans to use them again in a future expansion.

Who do you think is against your citizenship application? How many MPs do you think work for the security services?


The Home Secretary, and he alone, will make the decision on my citizenship application. I have every confidence that it will be considered fairly and without prejudice. It is no secret that my exposure of political corruption in the last Conservative government made me some pretty powerful enemies - some right-wing newspaper editors have sworn to hound me out of the country - but Britain is my home. My four children are all British, and I love this country. I am law-abiding and pay my taxes. I provide thousands of jobs and make a big contribution to the economy - I am not about to leave the country, whatever is decided.

As to how many MPs work for the security service, your guess is as good as mine. Tom King MP, the chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee, admitted only this week that information can be withheld even from him.

If you didn't use the Sultan of Brunei's money to buy Harrods, where did the money come from?

Donald Chittle, Buckingham

Between 1968 and 1978 I won orders for pounds 6bn-worth of civil engineering and construction work for British firms, including Costain, of which I owned 30 per cent. Harrods was bought with my own money. Not only did I inject additional capital into House of Fraser to service any borrowings after the acquisition, I also made further bonds available to refurbish stores in the group and acquire additional stores such as Turnbull & Asser, and acquired a significant interest in Sears PLC. I have also spent more than pounds 300m restoring Harrods.

On his own admission the late Tiny Rowland spent pounds 40m trying to prove to the DTT Inspectors that the purchase money was not mine, but he never succeeded. My only crime was to have more money than Tiny thought I had.

Have you ever taken anything home from Harrods without paying for it?

Neil Price, Norfolk

No. And I pay my Gold Card Account on time, too.

We're so miserable in Britain. Why on earth do you want to live here?

Josephine Ellis, West Hampstead

I love the British sense of humour.

Do you believe in life after death - do you think you'll ever see Dodi again?

Ellis, West Hampstead

I firmly believe in life after death and have no doubt that one day I shall be reunited with my beloved son.

Can you list what is in your bathroom cabinet?

Stewart Catchpole, Colchester

Homeopathic remedies, toothpaste, shaving soap, razors. I forget the rest.

Are you a good cook? What's your favourite dish?

Deborah Quinley, Esher

I love cooking for my family. I am a great fan of stuffed vegetables but my real favourite is a dish I call Ritzy Beef - sauteed filets mignons with mushrooms and shallots, served with a Madeira sauce.

Where would you most like to be right now?

Jan Faversham, Cornwall

I am very privileged to work in the place I love best - Harrods. But my most treasured home is Balnagown Castle in Scotland, the first property I ever bought in Britain.

What was the last book you read?

Richard Johns, Eltham

A biography of the radical Tom Paine, by John Keane.

Which newspaper do you dislike most at the moment, and why?

Olga Pimm, Horsham

The Sun. It recently called me a reptile in huge red letters on the front page. I am all in favour of robust press comment, but felt that was just a little over the top.

Do you read Private Eye? What do you most like about England?

Ifor Williams, Gwynedd

I do not read Private Eye but am told I feature regularly. It's nice to be popular and give people pleasure. For satire with real bite and spice I read Punch. England's best qualities are its tolerance and good humour.

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