Heseltine raised 'some concern' on Nadir case

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The Independent Online
MICHAEL HESELTINE, President of the Board of Trade, raised 'some concerns' with the Attorney-General about the prosecution of Asil Nadir in the months before the former chairman of Polly Peck fled to Northern Cyprus, the Department of Trade and Industry said yesterday.

Mr Heseltine is the third minister known to have discussed the case with the Attorney-General. A DTI spokeswoman said that an unidentified third party had talked to Mr Heseltine about the Serious Fraud Office's handling of the pounds 30m fraud prosecution and the minister had then spoken to the Attorney-General, Sir Nicholas Lyell.

'He did hear there were some concerns,' she said. 'He passed it on to the appropriate colleague. To the best of his recollection he has never met Nadir.' Sources close to the Nadir defence said that, unlike Michael Mates, the Northern Ireland minister, Mr Heseltine had not spoken to the defence team. Mr Mates gave Nadir a watch inscribed 'Don't let the buggers grind you down.' The disclosure has led to Labour calls for a full explanation from the Prime Minister.

Mr Heseltine's involvement, though it may have been trivial, will add to concern about the fugitive tycoon's links with the Tory party. Peter Brooke, the National Heritage Secretary, as well as Mr Mates, had raised the case.