Haughey was 'skint', stores chief claimed

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The former Irish Prime Minister Charles Haughey was described as "skint" by a businessman who was lending him more than pounds 1m, a Dublin tribunal heard yesterday.

The word was used by the former shopping chain magnate Benn Dunne in a conversation with his one-time financial services adviser.

The adviser, Julian Harper, told the official inquiry into payments to politicians by Mr Dunne: "I presumed he meant he [Mr Haughey] had money problems."

Mr Harper said he had arranged for the transfer of cash from the stores boss and added: "Everything about Mr Dunne was unusual."

Earlier this week Mr Dunne, ousted as chairman of his company four years ago, told the tribunal chairman Judge Brian McCracken he had given a total of pounds 3.1m to Mr Haughey between 1987 and 1991 because the then-premier was experiencing financial difficulties.

Mr Haughey has not taken up the opportunity to be legally represented at the hearing, but in a letter to the tribunal he has denied getting any money from Mr Dunne.

The businessman has listed a number of other politicians, political parties and other groups to whom he made payments over a number of years.

Evidence of cash received for campaign funds by the Irish Labour Party was given to the tribunal yesterday by party leader and deputy Irish Prime Minister Dick Spring.