Nadir's pilot is freed on appeal

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The Independent Online
THE PILOT jailed for helping the fugitive business tycoon Asil Nadir to escape to northern Cyprus was freed by the Court of Appeal yesterday.

The decision hinged on whether Nadir had been officially on bail when Peter Dimond arranged the first leg of his flight to freedom in May 1993. At the time Nadir was facing charges of theft and false accounting after the collapse of his pounds 1.3bn Polly Peck empire.

The Lord Chief Justice, Lord Bingham of Cornhill, sitting with Mr Justice Forbes and Mr Justice Harrison, ruled that Nadir had not been subject to any bail conditions at the time.

"As it is, the appellant may well consider himself in the event somewhat fortunate but, in our judgment, the conviction as it stands is unsafe," said Lord Bingham.

Mr Dimond, 57, from Petersfield, Hampshire, had flown Nadir beyond the reach of British jurisdiction four months before the former Polly Peck chief was due to stand trial. The pair toasted the escape with champagne and caviare in mid-flight.

Emerging from the High Court, Mr Dimond launched a furious attack on the Serious Fraud Office. "This country is supposed to have the mother and father of all judicial systems and yet it failed me as it has failed many others," he said. Among the friends and relatives who greeted him was Elizabeth Forsyth, Nadir's former personal secretary, who spent 10 months in jail before also being released by the Court of Appeal.

Nadir's UK lawyer, Peter Krivinskas, said the collapse of the case against Mr Dimond proved that his client had been free to leave the country when he boarded the plane and headed for Cyprus.

"It makes it easier for Mr Nadir to have the criminal charges dismissed on the grounds that he can't get a fair trial. If he was never in breach of bail when he left, it's one less barrier a judge can put up," Mr Krivinskas said.