Queen accepts Aitken's exit

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The Independent Online
The disgraced former minister Jonathan Aitken's journey into political wilderness, following his humiliation in the High Court reached a new milestone yesterday, when the Queen accepted his resignation from the Privy Council.

The one-time Chief Secretary to the Treasury and Defence procurement minister joined an inglorious list of three others who had either resigned or been struck-off from the Privy Council this century.

A brief statement issued by Downing Street said: "The Queen has approved at his own request that the name of Jonathan William Patrick Aitken Esq be removed from the list of Privy Councillors."

Mr Aitken had offered his resignation in a letter to the Cabinet Office after the collapse of his libel action against The Guardian and Granada TV, the makers of World in Action. He is at present in hiding abroad.

He now faces a Scotland Yard investigation into allegations that he committed perjury and attempted to pervert the course of justice. Mr Aitken, his wife Lolicia, and teenage daughter Victoria are expected to be interviewed under caution by detectives in the near future.

It is believed that Mr Aitken, who lost his Thanet South in the last election, had been persuaded by friends and senior members of the Conservative Party that he should resign and spare embarrassment to the Queen and the new Tory leader William Hague.

There are reports that Mr Aitken is at present in the US where he is preparing to write a book on his downfall. He has told friends that he intends to return to England in the next few weeks to face police questioning.