You ask the questions: (Such as: Dame Shirley Porter, I don't believe you are innocent, despite the verdict, but do you care what other people think?)

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Dame Shirley Porter, 68, was brought up in east London, and is the daughter of Tesco founder, Sir Jack Cohen. She was the Conservative leader of Westminster City Council from 1983 to 1991, the Lord Mayor of Westminster from 1990 to 1991, and a prominent campaigner for a tidy Britain. In 1989, she was caught up in a "homes for votes" scandal and, with a handful of other officials, accused of selling off council homes in a deliberate attempt to keep Westminster Conservative. They faced a surcharge of pounds 27m but earlier this month, Dame Shirley and former colleagues were cleared of wilful misconduct by the Court of Appeal. Dame Shirley and her husband, Sir Leslie Porter, divide their time between Israel and the West Coast of America.

How did you feel when you were cleared by the High Court?

Johnny Clarkson (by e-mail)

Vindicated, rather than relieved. When this saga began, the district auditor prevented me from speaking to the press. I was gagged, while my critics had a field day. Now I have been completely acquitted, I hope that people will look at this case in a different light. All the accused have been cleared. I'm terribly sad that one of my former colleagues was driven to take his own life over these false allegations. The only winners have been the accountants and lawyers who charged local residents and other taxpayers millions of pounds.

Now you've been vindicated, will you consider moving back to Britain?

Richard Robertson, Manchester

I'm happy with my family in Israel and have become involved in lots of exciting environmental projects. And the weather is incomparably better.

How do you think you ended up in court in the first place?

John L Burgess, Newcastle

Lots of reasons. The district auditor and I had not seen eye to eye long before the Labour Party objected to our home ownership policies. They were doubly furious because I stopped the GLC wasting pounds 150m in the run up to its abolition.

What made this case different was that the auditor ignored legal precedents and disregarded crucial evidence. He spent pounds 10m of public money investigating a case that has proved to be a total disaster from his point of view. He wouldn't be human if he didn't take it personally.

Why did you decide to leave Britain?

Chei Amlani, Edinburgh

We were hit by a succession of family tragedies. After my grandson was killed in a car crash, I wanted to be with my daughter, to spend more time with her and our other grandchild. My husband was unwell. Our London home had been damaged by fire. We already had many interests in Israel. It seemed the right thing to do at the time.

I don't believe you are innocent, despite the Appeal Court's verdict. Do you care what people think?

Caroline Adamson, Isle of Wight

Of course I care what other people think about me. I spent 10 years clearing my name. And I'm sorry when people's prejudices reach such proportions that they end up disputing the Appeal Court's verdict, because they can't accept any opinion except their own.

Most of all, I care what my family think. I always knew I hadn't done anything wrong. I could live with myself and it gave me the strength to carry on.

Have you ever actually eaten a Tesco cottage-style pie?

Alfie Beswick, Islington, London

Probably. When I was growing up, I think we tasted everything that Tesco sold. Our kitchen was my father's market research department - there was no such thing as focus groups in those days.

Chanel or Gucci?

Sarah Blythe (by e-mail)

Neither. Perhaps Versace, if I were Elizabeth Hurley. My favourites are Betty Barclay and MaxMara. Yet somehow, I never feel that I've got the right outfit for the right occasion.

What is your biggest extravagance?

Julie Emmerson, Chelmsford, Essex

Golf balls, tennis balls, fresh asparagus and, in recent years, computer gadgets. I'm not into yachts, fancy cars, Monets on the wall. I prefer simpler tastes.

Lord MacLaurin has accused you of treating your husband like a "whipping boy". Is this true?

Thomas Alexander, Woburn Sands, Bedfordshire

It's our golden wedding this year. It's been a wonderful partnership - Leslie has been a rock in my life. When Lord MacLaurin was just Ian to his friends, he often came round to our home. It's a pity he didn't say these things at the time he was accepting our hospitality.

With which historical figure do you most identify?

Sally Parks, Notts

Emmeline Pankhurst, the champion of female suffrage. She was a fighter who took on the establishment and survived character assassination and a dozen jailings to become a Conservative candidate in east London.

What three words would most accurately describe you?

Liz Long, Windsor

Energetic, exacting, go-getting.

Why do some people succeed, and some people fail?

Jason Arlington, Bow, London

My father used to hand out tie-pins inscribed y.c.d.b.s.o.y.a. - you can't do business sitting on your armchair... or something along those lines. No matter how clever or personable someone is, at the end of the day, those who work the hardest normally win. And if they can do it with a smile, they'll make more friends than enemies.

Next Week

Mary Chipperfield, followed by Bill Wyman

SEND QUESTIONS for Mary Chipperfield and Bill Wyman to: You Ask the Questions, Features, The Independent, 1 Canada Square, London E14 5DL, fax 0171-293 2182, or e-mail us at: yourquestions @independent.co.uk, by 12 noon on Friday 28 May

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