SFO witness `paid pounds 4,000 by newspaper'

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A principal witness for the Serious Fraud Office has told a jury that he received pounds 4,000 from Clive Wolman, the former City editor of the Mail on Sunday, for co-operating with a story that the newspaper was working on.

Brook Anderson, the SFO's main witness in a case it is bringing this week against Michael Ward, the former chairman of European Leisure, told a jury at Southwark Crown Court that the pounds 4,000 was paid in several instalments following the delivery of tape recordings he had secretly made of conversations between him and Mr Ward.

Mr Anderson, who used to be Mr Ward's builder, said he had only told the SFO last week about the pounds 4,000 payment. Before that both the SFO and the defence had believed that Mr Anderson had only been paid expenses of around pounds 560.

Asked by the defence who had suggested to him that he should say that he had only received payments of pounds 500 or thereabouts, Mr Anderson replied: "Clive Wolman."

"So he was suggesting that if asked about the amount of money you had received from his newspaper, you were to tell a lie to whoever it was who asked you?" the defence asked.

"He said it didn't really matter. No-one would find out," Mr Anderson replied.

Mr Anderson said that when he had last seen the SFO in 1994 he had received only pounds 560 but that he had subsequently received further payments.

"I was paid over a period of delivering tapes and when I met Clive Wolman," he told the court.

The SFO has made two charges against Mr Ward, alleging that he made misleading statements and arranged for the falsification of documents during interviews which he had with the SFO in connection with a fraud trial.

Harvey Rands, Mr Ward's solicitor at the law firm Memery Crystal, said that he was "exceedingly surprised that the SFO permitted this case to go on for a day and a half when they knew that information they had given to us was incorrect."

The SFO declined to make a formal comment.

Yesterday at Southwark the jury was left out of the court-room for most of the day as both sets of lawyers contested legal points.

Judge Rivlin called the jury in just before breaking for lunch to say: "A substantial legal matter has arisen at this stage and we are having to deal with it."