Judge faced bribery claim: Counsel tried to have Tucker removed from Nadir trial

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MR JUSTICE TUCKER, the judge in the Asil Nadir case, was alleged to have accepted a bribe, Anthony Scrivener QC, counsel for Nadir and former chairman of the Bar Council, indicated last night.

He told Channel Four News: 'Ever since Henry II's rule, no judge has ever been accused of accepting a bribe. It's a most extraordinary thing. None of us were ever interviewed by the police.

'There wasn't sufficient evidence even to bother us with that, and I think one ought to inquire who allowed this allegation to be made against a High Court judge?'

That statement explained part of the mystery behind Tuesday's Commons resignation speech by Michael Mates, the former Minister of State for Northern Ireland. Mr Mates said counsel for the Director of Public Prosecutions had told a 6 November hearing on Nadir's bail conditions that police were investigating an alleged conspiracy to bribe the judge.

He then disclosed that last March it was further alleged that there had been a conspiracy to pervert the course of justice; a conspiracy involving Nadir, Wyn Jones, Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Mr Scrivener - and the judge.

In his Commons statement on allegations levelled by Mr Mates against the Serious Fraud Office on Wednesday, Sir Nicholas Lyell, the Attorney General, said the police investigation, carried out under the supervision of the DPP, 'had revealed no credible evidence implicating the judge personally in any way'.

Replying to a letter from Mr Scrivener, the Attorney delivered the same exculpation to Nadir's defence counsel in a letter published yesterday. 'I understand from the DPP's office that precisely the same is true of you. There is, however, still an on-going police inquiry into the alleged conspiracy and you will understand that the way in which that inquiry is handled must be a matter for the police.'

Yet Mr Scrivener had told Sir Nicholas that his request for clarification of the situation was reasonable since neither the judge nor himself had 'been asked a single question about the matter and many months ago it was said the inquiry would be completed within two months'.

Mr Scrivener said Mr Justice Tucker was well-liked and widely respected for his fairness. Despite that, however, it has become clear that the barrister secretly moved to have him removed from the trial. Mr Scrivener was concerned that, however unfounded the allegations, Mr Justice Tucker might suspect there had been an attempt to bribe him and Nadir could not be guaranteed a fair trial.

The barrister asked the divisional court to have him dismissed, no matter how false the claim, as he was embroiled in the conspiracy allegation. The plea was rejected.

SFO under fire, page 2

Leading article, page 16

Polly Peck inquiry, page 19

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