After being challenged by the Independent, Mr Mates last night issued a statement to the Press Association news agency saying: 'It has been put to me by some journalists that I have received on behalf of my wife the gift of a car, with improper motives being adduced,' he said.
'I wish to categorically deny that anybody connected with me has received any such gift or that I have done anything in any way improper in this connection.'
However, in an earlier interview, Mr Mates confirmed that Mark Rogerson, of Morgan Rogerson, the publicity consultants now advising the Turkish Cypriot tycoon, purchased a second-hand Volvo 240 estate which was lent to his wife.
He said the car was bought shortly after Nadir's flight to northern Cyprus last month, and after the disclosure that Mr Mates had given Nadir a watch inscribed: 'Don't let the buggers get you down'.
Mr Mates previously wrote on several occasions to the Attorney General's office raising Nadir's case. John Major defended his minister in the Commons at the time of those disclosures, saying that he had been guilty of misjudgement but that this was 'not a hanging offence'.
The Independent's inquiries had earlier established that the car was purchased from Sheet Service Station & Volvo Dealership in Petersfield, Hampshire. It was bought by Mr Rogerson on a hire purchase arrangement with Volvo Finance. The showroom declined yesterday to comment.
Mr Mates said: 'For a number of complicated reasons I actually found it because I was looking for a car for my wife . . . . I went to the place and I found it.
'It wasn't what I wanted because it doesn't have a big enough engine. I then found another one which was not available for a month. Meanwhile, Mark (Rogerson) was looking for a car and I said to him: 'I've found just the car for you.' He said that Mr Rogerson then purchased the car, adding: 'Any imputation of any improper motive is absolutely wrong.'
Mr Mates denied that the car was on permanent loan to his wife, Rosellen, from whom he is now separated. Sources told the Independent that she had originally wanted it in order to tow a horsebox.
Mr Mates said the car had been lent to his wife by Mr Rogerson who 'didn't need it for a couple of weeks and he said: 'Well, why doesn't your wife use it.' '
Mr Mates said he paid the insurance cover and the car was returned after a short period. He emphasised that Nadir had no involvement in the car's purchase, or providing Mr Rogerson with funds to buy it. He said Mr Rogerson bought the car for personal reasons.
Meanwhile, the Independent learnt that Gerald Malone, deputy chairman of the Tory party, confirmed yesterday that he had worked as a consultant for Asil Nadir's publicity adviser, Christopher Morgan, until last month. His association continued after his appointment as deputy chairman in May 1992, and after Mr Morgan started to act for Nadir.
Mr Malone remained as a consultant until 31 May - more than three weeks after Nadir jumped his pounds 3.5m bail. He recorded the relationship in the Register of Members' Interests, but said yesterday that he had no recollection of meeting Nadir, and denied he had been among MPs raising his case with the Attorney General.
The Attorney General has refused to disclose how many of the seven MPs who contacted his office about Nadir were ministers. It has emerged, however, that Mr Mates, Michael Heseltine, President of the Board of Trade, and Peter Brooke, Secretary of State for National Heritage, acting as a constituency MP, all did so.
Heseltine challenge, page 2
Lord Midas, page 16
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