Fugitive tycoon will tell all 'in ten days': In a Cyprus garden, Asil Nadir talks to Esther Oxford of cash, honour and British jails

Click to follow
The Independent Online
THE POSE was studiedly relaxed. Asil Nadir the fugitive turned hero was on his last lap of the day: in one hand there was fresh orange juice picked and squeezed by one of his faithful villagers. In the other was yet another half-smoked cigarette.

'Wait ten days and all will be exposed: the names of the people I had relations with, the exact nature of those relations and when the communications took place,' were his opening words. Then: 'Revenge? Of course not] I'm only trying to clear my name. The names of the seven MPs (who approached the Attorney General on his behalf)? But of course] There is no point in being obscure.'

It was dusk. We were sitting in Asil Nadir's garden. There was a smell of jasmine, yellow and white. Goldfish could be seen darting in the lily pond. 'All I wish to do is have a fair trial,' he said wearily. 'I want to hear the charges made against me, see them written and have time to complete a defence case without intervention.

'Revealing this information is an attempt to right the balance. My team of PR men and investigators will be arriving on Sunday and Monday. I can't tell you more. I have waited three years for this. Why can't you wait ten days?'

In front of Nadir was a pile of the day's newspaper cuttings. 'Lies, all lies' he said. 'But what do you

expect?'

We were interrupted by one of several armed guards. All day long the man had been stroking a pistol on his belt. This time he was stroking a wreath of white flowers made by one of the villagers. He smiled briefly and offered it forward to be smelt. A gust of wind blew and the candles flickered. 'A knighthood?' said Nadir, recollecting suggestions that he might have tried to purchase one. 'Why should I want a knighthood? I'm a socialist. I care about my people. You cannot buy status and respect, you know. You cannot put a wad of cash on the table and say, respect me.

'I gave money to the Conservative Party for six years up until 1990. I didn't want anything in return. Tell me: what could I have needed? Polly Peck was an outstanding success. As for influencing policy-making - how could that have benefited me?'

Nadir looked round at his tranquil garden, and for a moment he looked satisfied, content. He belonged to the scene: hair greased back, crisp white shirt, half open, chest hair bristling through.

Then it was back to the rampage. The British justice system had treated him worse than a dog. He had spent four days in a cell at Wormwood Scrubs, shitting in a bucket in front of another prisoner, before being forced to swish it all away. 'A dog is awarded more privacy to pee,' he said, 'I was not. I was guilty until proven innocent in their eyes.'

'Are you planning to come back to England?' I asked as he clapped his hands to signal the end of the interview. 'Of course]' he said, summoning another security guard.

Comments