Admiral in sex scandal probe

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THE UNITED States admiral who faces possible court martial over charges of adultery and lying is also accused of favouring his mistress, a defence contractor, in the award of naval contracts, it emerged yesterday.

Rear-Admiral John Scudi's name hit the headlines on Wednesday with a report in the right-wing Washington Times newspaper that he had been suspended from his post at the Pentagon and transferred to the naval base at Norfolk, Virginia, after allegations about two adulterous relationships.

With the allegations in the open, the Pentagon, which had said nothing about the case previously and declined to answer questions from the Washington Times, suddenly took a new tack, confirming the investigation and offering additional details.

According to defence officials, the charges of adultery and lying against Admiral Scudi were secondary to those involving what was described as the "unlawful awarding of government contracts". At the Pentagon, Admiral Scudi was in charge of the Navy's office of outsourcing and privatisation.

He is alleged to have had two extramarital relationships, one with a defence contractor and the other with a civilian employee of the Navy. The defence contractor is alleged to have informed on him to the authorities. Officials said he is accused of directing about $150,000 (pounds 91,000) of contracts to a consulting firm owned by his mistress, without seeking competitive bids.

That the Pentagon decided to release information about the charges against Admiral Scudi suggests officials were concerned to differentiate between the allegations against the admiral and those against President Bill Clinton.