and JOHN WILLCOCK
The sister of Asil Nadir, the founder of Polly Peck, is to take the Serious Fraud Office to court for wrongful arrest and false imprisonment. Bilge Navzat will claim pounds 5m damages.
In a separate development it emerged yesterday that Mr Nadir is hoping to instruct Geoffrey Robertson QC, the barrister best known for his defence in the Matrix Churchill trial, to prepare a case to have the criminal proceedings against him dropped.
Mr Nadir was made personally bankrupt following the collapse of his pounds 2bn Polly Peck business empire in 1990. The SFO subsequently brought fraud and theft charges against him totalling pounds 30m.
In 1993 he fled to northern Cyprus, which has no extradition treaties with the UK and where the tycoon enjoys government support.
The SFO has stressed since Mr Nadir's flight that the charges still stand and it is ready to hold a trial if or when he returns to the UK.
Mr Nadir will argue that there has been an abuse of due process. He will say that privileged documents have been opened and circulated and that there has been so much adverse publicity it makes it impossible for him to stand a fair trial.
Mrs Navzat issued writs yesterday in the High Court against the SFO and the Metropolitan Police Commissioner. She was arrested in connection with allegations - later withdrawn- that she was involved in a plot to bride Mr Justice Tucker, the judge handling her brother's trial. The SFO said yesterday it would be defending her writ.
Peter Krivinskas, Mrs Navzat's solicitor, said his client was living in northern Cyprus and had been suffering depression since her arrest.
Mr Krivinskas, who also represents Mr Nadir, said the Polly Peck founder "is working tirelessly with a view to establishing his innocence. When the criminal case has been thrown out, he will claim compensation."
The SFO is scheduled to go to court next month for a preliminary hearing against Elizabeth Forsyth, Mr Nadir's former business colleague at Polly Peck. She returned to the UK following Mr Nadir's flight in 1993 to provide evidence to the SFO. She is being charged on two counts of handling stolen goods.
This month Chris Barlow, a co-administrator from the accountants Coopers & Lybrand, held "peace talks" with Mr Nadir.
He said on Wednesday that the talks had been "frank and useful. We are keeping the link [to Mr Nadir] open."
City Diary, page 26