Fayed: `How can I remember. I am not a computer'

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The Independent Online
MOHAMED AL Fayed was yesterday accused in the High Court of not having a single document to back up his "cash for questions" allegations against the former Conservative minister Neil Hamilton.

Mr Hamilton is suing Mr Fayed for libel over allegations that he accepted cash, gift vouchers and free holidays in return for asking questions on behalf of the Harrods owner in the House of Commons.

Desmond Browne, QC, acting for Mr Hamilton, said that message pads and diaries produced by the Egyptian-born millionaire merely showed he had been in contact with the then MP for Tatton, but could not back up claims of cash or gift vouchers being handed over.

Mr Fayed said he had delivered documents concerning Mr Hamilton to the Labour Party, the Liberal Democrats,the Lord Chancellor Lord Irvine of Lairg, John Major and Paddy Ashdown.

He continued: "You ask Lord Irvine. He will give you a copy of the documents I have delivered. My lawyers can supply you with copies of these documents. You can ask the Lord Chancellor and Paddy Ashdown, they are still alive ..."

After being questioned repeatedly about alleged lack of documents and alleged discrepancies in his claims Mr Fayed said: "I can't remember all the time exactly because my brain is not a computer. I am talking completely out of the power God has given me in my brain. I do my best, the best of my recollection - you can't just pinpoint exactly the time, the month, how many times - it's very difficult in 14 years. I am not a robot."

On the fifth day of giving evidence, Mr Fayed again clashed repeatedly with Mr Browne who said at one point that the Egyptian-born businessman drew as much as pounds 120,000 in cash from his bank each week, and a minimum of pounds 60,000. Mr Browne then asked Mr Fayed: "What on earth are you doing with weekly cash withdrawals of between pounds 60,000 and pounds 120,000?" Mr Fayed said: "And this is your business? It is my business. You have bank statements. What is the question? It's not your business."

Mr Browne: "I suggest you used these enormous sums to lubricate your way through business, finding a way of easing your relations with other people by paying them sums of cash which you know they will not be accounting for for tax."

Mr Fayed: "What you are saying is absolute rubbish. You have no proof. You have nothing to defend your client except attacking me unfairly, unlogically because you don't understand what type of person I am, what culture I come from, what commitments I have, how many people I employ ..."

Mr Browne: "Are you saying you distribute this cash ..."

Mr Fayed interrupted: "I am not listening because you are talking garbage."

Mr Browne: "Are you saying that you distribute this cash largesse of over pounds 100,000 a week among your employees, because, as I understand it, you told us that you do not pay cash to your employees to top up their wages."

Mr Fayed: "You have no basis for all this rubbish. You are just trying to ridicule me. I have a lot of commitments, big family, homes everywhere. I need the cash and it's none of your business. My personal cash is my personal life. It's none of your bloody business. It's my business. Get on with the subject and don't waste the time of everybody."

Mr Browne asked: "Are you suggesting that Mr Hamilton was so greedy that on two occasions a mere four days apart he turned up at Harrods asking for cash and was given gift vouchers?" Mr Fayed said that, indeed, was right,

Mr Browne: "You have been able to produce message pads going back to 1985, diaries going back to 1985, but it's right, isn't it, that there was not a single document produced by you which proves that money was paid to Mr Hamilton?"

Mr Fayed: "It is unfair. You do not understand someone like me involved in a major company, employing thousands of people ... you want me to interfere in all my secretarial business?"

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