i Editor's Letter: Money and love...


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The Independent Online


Do you still care about the curious character that is Julian Assange? Having seemed a breath of fresh air when WikiLeaks first emerged, he now appears to be an unpredictable narcissist, who is, let's not forget, facing serious sex attack allegations in Sweden.

What is interesting is where his surprise decision to seek asylum in the Ecuadorean embassy (see our own reporter's attempt) leaves supporters who agreed to stand the £240k bail to keep him out of custody. If, as the Yard tells us, the flight to the embassy has breached his bail terms, they now stand to lose their cash.

Jemima Khan, the most high-profile of a bunch including the journalist Philip Knightley and businessman Felix Dennis, aired their pain, saying: "I had expected him to face the allegations. I am as surprised as anyone by this."

So, how much would you lend a friend in need? A few old Italian women I knew always told me the correct answer was "zero", as "money and love, they don't mix". In reality, they always helped each other and the rest of us out. In my early twenties I lent my best mate a large four-figure sum (huge for me). I was 100 per cent sure I'd get the money back, and months later I did. What I didn't foresee was the friendship then fizzling out.

If Julian Assange's "supporters" really could not see the danger in his being a flight risk, then they should have gone to Specsavers. If you do end up lending money to a friend, you should prepare for it not being returned, and hope for a surprise. Better to adopt Assange backer Tariq Ali's attitude: "I totally approve. F*** the money."

And, remember my old aunts' advice. "money and love..."