Starr may face `special prosecutor' may go after

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The Independent Online
THE MAN who was appointed as a special prosecutor to investigate US President Bill Clinton may himself become the target of a special prosecutor.

Kenneth Starr may be investigated for ethical breaches during his inquiry, which initially focused on the Whitewater affair but came to encompass much, much more.

The possibility of appointing a special prosecutor is one option being considered by Janet Reno, the Attorney-General, The New York Times reported yesterday.

He is alleged to have broken legal rules in the way his staff treated Monica Lewinsky, the former White House intern whose affair with President Clinton led to impeachment proceedings.

His office is alleged to have hidden links to lawyers working for Paula Jones, the Arkansas state employee who brought a sexual harassment suit against Mr Clinton. And his staff are alleged to have leaked to the press details of grand jury testimony.

Mr Starr, a former official in the Reagan White House and judicial appointee of the Bush administration, is regarded as part of the "vast right-wing conspiracy" by the Democrats loyal to Mr Clinton, and as a crusading hero by much of the right wing across the United States.

The investigation into his affairs is being handled by a special unit of the Justice Department at the moment, which has caused criticism from the right.

Ms Reno is, after all, an officer of Mr Clinton's cabinet, and she is considering appointing a special investigator - perhaps a senior Republican lawyer, to counter claims of bias - to complete the probe. The idea seems to have come from Mr Starr's office, as part of a "rancorous" exchange over the inquiry.

Washington is a town where the largest section in the yellow pages is for lawyers, and about half of the politicians and staff have a legal background.

So it perhaps should not be surprising that lawyers will investigate a lawyer for his links to other lawyers. But the importance of Mr Starr's continuing embroilment is threefold.

In the eyes of some Democrats, he overstepped the line repeatedly in his investigation. Republicans, meanwhile, think that the probe is part of a revenge strategy from the White House.

They are also convinced that the investigation is intended to deter Mr Starr from pressing indictments against Mr Clinton and perhaps other members of the President's entourage for their behaviour during the past year.