MP in gay libel trial told doctor he was impotent

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A doctor who treated the Tory MP David Ashby for depression said he was impotent, and denied he confided concern that he felt homosexual inclinations.

Dr Lewis Sevitt, a Harley Street physician, was giving evidence in Mr Ashby's libel case against the Sunday Times and Andrew Neil, the former editor. Mr Ashby denies he is a homosexual.

When Mr Ashby, 55, first visited Mr Sevitt's surgery in 1993, he complained of anxiety. "He was suffering from a great deal of stress," Dr Sevitt said.

"As part of that, it was clear his interest in sex had been much diminished. He told me he had been unable to have sexual relations with his wife for four years."

Dr Sevitt said he prescribed anti-depressants in the hope it would improve Mr Ashby's condition. "I would have hoped his medication would have been successful ... and his interest and ability to make love would have improved. As it was I don't think there was much change."

But Dr Sevitt denied Mr Ashby was concerned he was having a mid-life crisis, and experiencing homosexual feelings, exacerbated by his wife's allegations that he was a homosexual. "It was clear he had financial, social and work pressures," Dr Sevitt said.

Mr Ashby denies that he had homosexual relations with Dr Ciaran Kilduff, 32, a medical doctor, who lived in the flat beneath Mr Ashby's in Putney, south-west London, after he separated from his wife in 1993.

When Dr Kilduff, also giving evidence yesterday, was asked if he had girlfriends he said yes, but he refused to comment on how intimate his relations with them had been or are now. "I don't presume to discuss my love life on public view," he said.

The two men, who both deny they have been physically intimate, became friends when Mr Ashby met Dr Kilduff in the garden when Mr Ashby was looking for a flat to buy.

Richard Hartley QC, for the Sunday Times, asked Dr Kilduff how they struck up such a quick friendship, and ended up sitting next to each other on a flight to the United States a month later. "Didn't you think it was a bit forward?" Mr Hartley asked.

"Brash, but you know what politicians are like," Dr Kilduff said. "As a doctor, my business is to establish a rapport with people within a 10- minute consultation. I would tend to be quite open."

Mr Ashby and Dr Kilduff admit they shared a double bed on a trip to France last year, but deny they had a homosexual relationship. Dr Kilduff also dismissed suggestions that they shared a bed on a number of occasions in Putney. "That's not true, it simply didn't happen," Dr Kilduff said.

The two men travelled to northern France in January 1994 on a carefully budgeted trip. Dr Kilduff said he did not consider it was unusual when they shared a bed on their second night to save money, although he had expected to twin beds.

"I didn't think sharing a room with someone was something one could be found out about," he said.

On that evening, Dr Kilduff said they ate dinner together and played cards in the lounge of the Chateau Tilque Hotel, and Mr Ashby retired before him. He said they did not discuss which sides of the bed they wished to sleep on, and he did not recall Mr Ashby snoring that night.

Dr Kilduff also denied suggestions that he and Mr Ashby had discussed knocking their two flats into one home. Although he said Mr Ashby had a set of keys to his flat, he said this was normal for a neighbour.

"I can't recall the first day I gave Mr Ashby the keys," Dr Kilduff said. "He certainly has a key now."