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Aitken's books taken for creditors' sale

A PRIZED collection of books belonging to Jonathan Aitken, the disgraced former Tory cabinet minister, was collected from his home by auctioneers yesterday.

About 100 items, many unique, were picked up from the house in Lord North Street, Westminster, where Aitken lived until he was jailed for 18 months earlier this year for perjury and perverting the course of justice.

The books, which include a rare 38-volume edition of Sir Winston Churchill's writings and personally inscribed works by Henry Kissinger, the former US secretary of state, and Richard Nixon, the former US president, will be auctioned next month in East Sussex. Proceeds from the sale, at the Gorringes auction house in Lewes, will go to the accountants Baker Tilly. The firm is acting on behalf of Aitken's creditors.

Nick Muston, Gorringes' group manager, said the firm had been instructed to auction only those books in Aitken's collection worth pounds 100 or more. It was thought the selection chosen would fetch at least pounds 10,000, but possibly far more, he said. "It's fair to say that the books we are taking comprise a small but interesting collection of political works, mostly presentation copies to Jonathan Aitken.

"It's difficult to estimate what these books would fetch ... The provenance of the owner could push the prices up." A copy of the 38-volume Churchill opus, The Centenary Edition: The Works, in gilt-tooled vellum, could fetch as much as pounds 3,500, Mr Muston said. Also for sale will be a copy of The History of Antiquities of the Isle of Thanet, Aitken's former constituency, which dates back to 1736 and is valued at pounds 300 to pounds 400.

Aitken declared himself bankrupt in May after being left with a pounds 2.4m legal bill from the collapse of his High Court libel action against The Guardian and Granada Television. He was sent to prison for 18 months in June for committing perjury during that case.

The books will be put under the hammer at an open auction on Thursday, October 21.