MPs set to close door on Hamilton

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The Independent Online
Neil Hamilton is unlikely to be called to give more evidence to the Commons select committee on standards and privileges after making spectacular allegations to clear his name.

The disgraced former minister yesterday repeated warnings that he would "name names" if he was given the chance to give more evidence to the select committee.

But there was little enthusiasm among the cross-party committee for giving Mr Hamilton another platform to make further allegations under parliamentary privilege. "He could say what he likes outside the Commons," said one source. "That is up to him."

The reluctance to call Mr Hamilton to give further evidence will be seen as a signal that the committee will seek to bring the inquiry into his conduct to a swift conclusion when it meets again in a fortnight.

The committee is expected to discuss the possibility of calling Mohamed Al Fayed, the owner of Harrods, who was accused by Mr Hamilton of ordering a break-in into the private safe-deposit box of Tiny Rowland, his rival in the battle to take over the store.

The committee was impressed by his skill as a barrister, but there are doubts that there was anything substantive and new in Mr Hamilton's evidence which could shake the damning conclusion of Sir Gordon Downey, the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, that the evidence that he had accepted cash for questions was "compelling".

Mr Hamilton, who admits failing to register a stay at the Ritz, Paris, at Mr Fayed's expense, yesterday said he did plan to name other MPs who had infringed Commons rules.

"I am saying that Sir Gordon is retrospectively changing the rules. I will name those people, but not to say they have acted disgracefully."

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