Former secretary denies lying for Harrods owner

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The Independent Online
MOHAMED AL FAYED'S former secretary - who claims she saw him put a "wodge" of cash into an envelope for Neil Hamilton - rejected an accusation yesterday that she was "sufficiently close" to the Harrods owner to lie for him.

Alison Bozek, now a solicitor, was being cross-examined by Desmond Browne QC for the former Tory minister on the ninth day of Mr Hamilton's High Court libel action against Mr Fayed over his "cash-for-questions" allegations.

Mr Browne suggested to Ms Bozek, who worked for Mr Fayed for 13 years, that "the relationship between you and Mr Fayed has always been and remains sufficiently close for you to be prepared to lie for him".

Ms Bozek, from Highgate, north London, replied firmly: "That's absolutely untrue, Mr Browne. I wouldn't risk all the hard work that I have done over the last years qualifying to be a lawyer. It's taken me nine years and I wouldn't risk that for anybody, I can assure you."

Mr Hamilton, the former Conservative MP for Tatton, is suing Mr Fayed over a Channel 4 Dispatches programme in January 1997. In that, Mr Fayed claimed Mr Hamilton had demanded and accepted cash, gift vouchers and a free holiday in the Paris Ritz for asking parliamentary questions for Harrods. Mr Hamilton and his wife, Christine, were in the packed High Court.

Ms Bozek dismissed as "absolute rubbish" Mr Browne's suggestion that she had realised Mr Fayed was unlikely to be believed if his story of cash payments to Mr Hamilton was confined exclusively to his own account of direct payments face-to-face.

Ms Bozek said: "Mr Browne, I wouldn't jump in and put myself into this sort of situation unless I was telling the truth. I do not fabricate evidence." Mr Browne suggested she got together with Mr Fayed and two other employees to provide a "tale" they all knew to be untrue to provide the Harrods owner with the corroboration missing from his evidence.

Ms Bozek said: "You are absolutely wrong, Mr Browne."

Mr Browne suggested that an offer of a job from Mr Fayed in his legal department - which she turned down - showed her relationship with him had remained good after she left Harrods in 1994.

The trial continues today.

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