Aitken's secretary was offered plum job to buy her silence

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The Independent Online
The secretary of the former minister Jonathan Aitken has said she was offered a lucrative job as an enticement to stop her giving damaging evidence against her former boss.

Valerie Scott claims the offer was made to her by an Arab business associate and personal friend of Mr Aitken, after information given by her about her former boss's financial dependence on Saudis had appeared in a World in Action documentary.

Ms Scott, 49, is due to make her allegation of the " job for silence" offer in a new World in Action documentary tonight, following the humiliating withdrawal of Mr Aitken's libel action against the Guardian newspaper and Granada TV.

Ms Scott was Mr Aitken's secretary from l973 to l979, helping in her last year to organise his wedding to Lolicia Azucki.

In the programme, Jonathan of Arabia, an actress playing the part of Miss Scott speaks about how Mr Aitken was subservient to Prince Mohammed, the son of the Saudi King, and was once given a Jaguar car as a present by Arabs.

Ms Scott said the Arab contact met her to offer her the job a few weeks after she was contacted by the programme. She said he made it clear that he did not wish either her or himself to get involved in a libel action.

In a further development, a former executive of the Independent Broadcasting Authority has revealed that he has seen documents proving Mr Aitken had taken money from Saudi sources to promote a pro-Arab bias in the news coverage of the television station TV-am. Mr John Norrington, then acting secretary of the IBA, says he was shown the documents by Mr Aitken's cousin Tim Aitken in February l988.

He added that because of IBA safeguards it would not have been possible for Mr Aitken to promote the propaganda, and thus he was "deceiving his paymasters."

Mr Norrington told The Independent: ""Coming from a man who was prominent MP in the governing party, it was an inexcusable and contemptible act. I happen to believe the IBA's controls were such that he would not have achieved what he persuaded the Saudis to do in return for the money they handed over to finance the stake in TV-am."

Aitken aftermath, page 3

David Walker, page 15