Leeson facing TV trial by Frost

DAVID HELLIER

Nick Leeson's interview with the Serious Fraud Office may now last into the middle of next week, his lawyer said yesterday, after which the former Barings trader looks like facing the interrogation skills of Sir David Frost, the broadcaster.

The financial rewards of Mr Leeson's freelance media exertions are set to go towards paying his legal bills, his friends said yesterday.

But neither his lawyer nor the television company involved were prepared to disclose details of how much he is to be paid.

A spokesperson for David Paradine Productions, Sir David's television company, confirmed last night that it had secured an interview with Mr Leeson, the first given to a British media outlet since his arrest. The interview is scheduled to be shown on British television on Monday 11 September.

Mr Leeson, who has been in a Frankfurt jail since 2 March, is also co- operating with a writer on a book which will be sold to a publisher at Frankfurt book fair. Six weeks ago the German courts repealed an order which allowed Mr Leeson to have contact with the writer and other media organisations.

The 28-year-old has been employing the services of Kingsley Napley in Britain, as well as a German solicitor, since he was arrested after the collapse of Barings. Stephen Pollard, Mr Leeson's British lawyer, has been with him in Frankfurt during the SFO interviews

Originally the SFO had expected their interviews with Mr Leeson to last just three days; but the process has become elongated, partly because of the necessity for all questions and answers to be translated for the German authorities.

The SFO's three representatives have now spent two seven-hour sessions with Mr Leeson.

Whatever the reason for the prolonged interviewing process, Mr Leeson's camp were said to be relatively optimistic about the SFO's extended visit as they try to persuade the SFO to apply for Mr Leeson to be extradited to the UK.

The SFO continues to believe that Singapore is the most appropriate place for Mr Leeson to face a trial. But it will consider Mr Leeson's evidence to see whether it contains anything to force a change of mind.

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