Aitken set to resign from Privy Council

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The Independent Online
Jonathan Aitken is to resign from the Privy Council rather than face the humiliation of being only the second man this century to be struck off.

The former MP is facing a police investigation into allegations of perjury after the collapse of his libel case against the Guardian and Granada Television last week.

Only the Queen has the power to strip a member of the office, which is granted for life as an honour on the advice of the council itself. A spokesman for the Privy Council office said last night: "We have had a letter from Mr Aitken but I cannot comment on its content." The council meets tomorrow.

The loss of the title will be a further blow to Mr Aitken, who has lost his Ministerial post, his Parliamentary seat, his marriage and pounds 1.8m during his attempt to clear his name.

He sued the Guardian and Granada Television over allegations about his business relationships with Arab contacts while a minister and over claims that he procured prostitutes for them. The case ended when it was proved that his wife, who he claimed had paid a hotel bill at the Paris Ritz, had been in Switzerland at the time.

The only man to have been struck off the Privy Council was Sir Edward Speyer, an American financier and friend of the Liberal Prime Minister Herbert Asquith. His appointment was revoked along with his British citizenship in 1921 after he was convicted of collaborating during the First World War with the Germans .

Two other ministers have resigned. The former Tory Minister John Profumo denied sleeping with Christine Keeler, a prostitute, but later admitted lying to the Commons. Labour's John Stonehouse faked his own death to profit from insurance policies but was found in Australia, brought back to Britain and jailed.

The Guardian's editor, Alan Rusbridger, said: "I think this is an appropriate act ... It is difficult to see how he could have continued in this role."