Tom Hanks regrets donation to Clinton's legal defence fund

TOM HANKS, one of the film world glitterati who gave money to President Bill Clinton's legal defence fund, said yesterday that he regretted his $10,000 (pounds 6,000) donation now that the American leader had admitted having a relationship with Monica Lewinsky.

Interviewed in the latest issue of The New Yorker magazine, Hanks - whose latest film, You've Got Mail, is about to go on general release - said: "We gave 10,000 bucks very early on... In all honesty, in the light of events since, it would be awfully hard to say now, 'Oh, here, let me help you out with this problem.' "

Supporters of Mr Clinton have solicited donations to a fund designed to help defray what could be more than $1m in legal expenses. An earlier fund, intended to pay for the President's campaign against investigations into the Whitewater land deal, was wound up last year after contributions dwindled.

The new fund, started this year when the Lewinsky scandal first surfaced, has raised several hundred thousand dollars.

Hanks and his wife, Rita, have stayed overnight at the White House three times in the past five years, according to The New Yorker - a privilege extended to personal friends of the Clintons and major donors to his re- election campaign.

Mr Clinton is unlikely to testify before the congressional panel considering impeachment charges against him over his efforts to conceal his affair with Ms Lewinsky, the White House said yesterday.

"I don't think it's very likely that you'll see the President appear before the [House judiciary] committee," said a spokesman, Joe Lockhart.

The panel's inquiry stems from allegations that Mr Clinton committed perjury, obstructed justice and abused his power in seeking to conceal his affair with Ms Lewinsky.

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