Asil Nadir was a major Tory benefactor


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The Independent Online

Asil Nadir was once a darling of the Tory Party and one of its biggest benefactors.

It is estimated he gave £500,000 to Margaret Thatcher's Conservative administration.

But the good fortune of both ended in the autumn of 1990.

Mrs Thatcher was ousted from Number 10 and Nadir was being chased by police, creditors and irate investors.

Even his friend Michael Mates, a minister in John Major's government, could not help.

He had to resign after it was discovered he gave Nadir a watch inscribed "Don't let the buggers get you down" just before he fled before his trial in 1993.

Now, years later, Nadir may have thought another Tory PM in Downing Street might bring him luck.

But only Mates, who continued as an MP until 2010, turned up at the Old Bailey to speak for Nadir.

The former Northern Ireland minister said he presented Nadir with the birthday present to cheer him up.

Mr Mates said he gave Nadir the watch. He added: "It had an inscription on it which was meant jocularly but was taken many other ways. It caused a lot of trouble."

Nadir had earlier told the court that Mrs Thatcher was asked to help save Polly Peck International.

But the plea, from the Turkish government at Nadir's request, only elicited an ultimatum from the Foreign Secretary for "£100 million by Monday", he said.