`Mail' offers Leeson pounds 100,000 to tell story

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The Independent Online
NICK LEESON, the "rogue trader" who brought down Barings Bank, has been offered more than pounds 100,000 by the Daily Mail to tell the story of his time in a Singapore jail.

Leeson will be released from Tanah Merah prison on Saturday and taken by immigration authorities to a holding cell at Singapore's Changi Airport. He is likely to leave on a British Airways flight later that day accompanied by his British solicitor Stephen Pollard, who brokered the Mail deal

Leeson, 32, will make his first public appearance since he was sentenced to six and a half years in jail for the pounds 850m collapse of Barings Bank in March 1995 at a press conference at Heathrow airport on Sunday morning. But after making a brief statement he will be spirited away by the Mail.

Sources at the newspaper said yesterday that the six- figure deal, which could amount to as much as pounds 150,000, was dependent on ensuring that it does not attract censure from the Press Complaints Commission.

Under the PCC's code newspapers are not allowed to make payments to convicted criminals. But the Mail believes it can justify its payment by arguing that his story is in the public interest, or by making a payment towards his treatment for colon cancer.

The PCC has said it will investigate the case if it receives a complaint.

Simon Forster, spokesman for the Barings Preference Shareholders Action Group, said the payment to Mr Leeson was "unfortunate". "This is not something that should be allowed. The first people to be recompensed are the thousands of people who suffered financially because of the collapse of Barings. A lot of people lost a lot of money."

Mr Forster said that it would be for the Barings liquidators, Ernst & Young, to decide whether to pursue Mr Leeson to seize the Mail's payment so it could go to Barings' creditors.