Hamilton downfall `caused by his bid to help Fayed' says QC

THE "TRAGEDY" of Neil Hamilton was that his downfall stemmed from trying to help the Harrods boss, Mohamed Al Fayed, the former Tory MP's QC said yesterday.

In his closing speech in the cash-for- questions libel action at the High Court in London, Desmond Browne said it was wrong to claim that the case was all about corruption by Mr Hamilton. "The truth is that it's all about his refusal to be corrupted by Mr Fayed and his inner circle," he said. Mr Fayed and his former secretary, Alison Bozek, thought they could use Mr Hamilton when he became a Department of Trade and Industry minister, to serve "their corrupt ends" to assist in overturning the critical DTI report into the Fayed takeover of the House of Fraser, he said.

"And when they found it was not possible and he wouldn't take the bait, doesn't history show that in their different ways they took their revenge?"

Ms Bozek, now a solicitor, had told the jury that she vividly recalled Mr Hamilton's name on an envelope containing a "wodge" of cash.

Mr Hamilton is suing Mr Fayed over claims on a 1997 Channel 4 Dispatches programme that he corruptly demanded and accepted cash, gift vouchers and a holiday at the Paris Ritz in return for asking parliamentary questions on behalf of Harrods. Mr Fayed denies libel, pleading justification.