Fugitive Asil Nadir hires top criminal barrister for defence

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Asil Nadir, who has lived in Turkish Cyprus since he fled this country in 1993, has hired a new barrister as he prepares for the possibility of facing a full trial here.

The fugitive businessman is wanted in the UK on more than 70 charges that he stole £34m during the collapse of his Polly Peck empire. Mr Nadir will not now return to Britain until spring next year, said his lawyer. Jonathan Goldberg QC and Peter Krivinskas, Mr Nadir's long-standing solicitor, flew to North Cyprus see him over the weekend. Mr Goldberg has previously represented Charlie Kray, the East End gangster.

Mr Krivinskas said his client was "fine" but that he would face health "problems" if he was not granted bail on his return. Mr Nadir's legal team are hoping that there will be no full trial. At the bail hearing, they will present an "abuse of process application" to have the whole case thrown out of court.

In September, Mr Nadir had declared he was ready to come back to the UK as soon as an agreement with the Serious Fraud Office was reached to minimise the time he spends behind bars ahead of any trial. But Mr Krivinskas said the SFO had "put every obstacle in the way" of Mr Nadir's return. He said the legal team now needed time to prepare for a proper trial because "you can't take for granted" the success of the abuse of process hearing.

The SFO has consistently maintained that Mr Nadir cannot set conditions for his return and it fully intends to make him face multiple charges in court.

Mr Krivinskas said Mr Nadir was still "determined" to clear his name. Given the charges, Mr Nadir can only stay in Turkish Cyprus or Turkey. "This is difficult for a man who is used to having the world as his stage," said Mr Krivinskas.