Leeson to sell story to tabloid

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The Independent Online
NICK LEESON, the convicted futures trader who brought down Barings Bank, is negotiating with a number of British newspapers to sell the story of his time in prison in Singapore.

Contrary to reports that he has already signed a deal - timed to coincide with the premiere last night of the film Rogue Trader which tells of the Barings crash - a source at a tabloid newspaper confirmed that negotiations are ongoing.

As many as six newspapers are believed to be chasing the story and six- figure sums are being offered. Mr Leeson, who is suffering from colon cancer, will be released from Singapore's Changi prison on 4 July.

The newspapers hope to get around the Press Complaints Commission's code of ethics - which bans payments to convicted criminals - by claiming a public interest defence and arguing that the money would be used for his cancer treatment.

A commission spokesman said yesterday: "The cancer cure excuse would not stop us investigating a payment to Nick Leeson, but it might allow a newspaper to argue that he was not profiting from the deal."

Mr Leeson's book Rogue Trader was serialised by the Daily Mail which led to an investigation by the commission. The Mail was cleared of making a payment then to Mr Leeson because the commission ruled that the serialisation was in the public interest as it brought out new facts about the collapse of the bank.

His story is not a happy one. He has been given a 70 per cent chance of beating his cancer, but has had a large part of his intestine removed. While in prison his mother died, his wife divorced him - and recently re-married - and his father also contracted cancer.

The film of his story stars Ewan McGregor and Anna Friel. It tells how in 1995 Leeson took Barings pounds 850m into debt by taking risky positions on futures in Singapore and Japan.