Clinton 'must repay funds'

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UNITED STATES federal auditors are recommending that President Bill Clinton repay as much as $7m (pounds 4.3m) of public money which, they say, was misused for Democratic campaign advertising in the 1996 presidential election. The Republicans' failed candidate, Bob Dole, may have to repay more than $17m.

The auditors' report, which has to be approved by the Federal Election Commission, was released as the House of Representatives judiciary committee voted to extend its impeachment inquiry to cover allegations that the President's fund-raising activities broke the law. It has until now concentrated on the Monica Lewinsky affair.

The decision to extend the inquiry was greeted with fury by the White House, whose spokesman, Joe Lockhart, said it showed the committee had been "hijacked by extremists". "Despite all the protestations that this was a narrowly focused process... what it really is is a partisan process designed to damage the President," he said.

Yesterday began the appearance before the judiciary committee of a succession of witnesses with first-hand experience of the US perjury laws, including Barbara Battalino, a former government psychologist, whose case has frequently been cited for its apparent parallels with Mr Clinton's.

Ms Battalino, convicted of obstruction of justice and sentenced to six months' home detention, had admitted lying in a civil case when she denied performing oral sex on a Vietnam veteran in her charge.