Christine Hamilton tells of Fayed's gift of sausages, then weeps in court

Click to follow

On one of the first meetings the Hamiltons had with Mohamed Al Fayed, Christine Hamilton told him she had "never had a Harrods sausage". A couple of days later he had given her "a pound of beef, and a pound of port sausages, all specially wrapped up".

On one of the first meetings the Hamiltons had with Mohamed Al Fayed, Christine Hamilton told him she had "never had a Harrods sausage". A couple of days later he had given her "a pound of beef, and a pound of port sausages, all specially wrapped up".

This was the generous side of a man Mrs Hamilton described as a "Jekyll and Hyde" character who was later to make "devastating allegations of corruption" against her husband, Neil, which "almost destroyed their lives". Mrs Hamilton was giving evidence yesterday on behalf of her husband in his libel action in the High Court against the multimillionaire owner of Harrods.

But, as the questioning by George Carman, QC for Mr Fayed, focused on allegations about lavish dinners and champagne at the Paris Ritz, cash in brown envelopes and Mr Hamilton's false resignation from John Major's government, Mrs Hamilton wiped her eyes repeatedly with a tissue borrowed from a court usher until she began to weep. Mr Hamilton looked alarmed and pained. Then he, too, wiped away a tear.

Since Mr Hamilton's fall over the cash-for-questions scandal, Mrs Hamilton has become as famous as, or some would say, more famous than, her husband. She has built a formidable reputation, even writing a book on battleaxes.

Yesterday, she looked determined, answering her husband's counsel, Desmond Browne QC, tracing life with Neil from the Exeter Crest Motorlodge, where they spent their wedding night, to the Paris Ritz and the allegations that he was "a greedy and corrupt politician".

Her answers were punctuated with exclamations of "Crikey", "Gosh", "Golly", "Beastly" in the tone of a rather patient head girl. Mrs Hamilton said the allegations made by Mr Fayed in a Channel Four Dispatches programme had knocked them "for six". She told the jury in a packed Court 13: "I was desperately upset, Neil tried to comfort me. He was absolutely horrified and furious, angry.

"I just felt completely desperate because we had managed to scale back up a little bit to turn the tide of public opinion and suddenly we were pushed right back down to the bottom again."

Asked about the stay at the Paris Ritz, when she had a bad back and a virus complaint, Mrs Hamilton said: "Mr Carman made it sound as though we had four Desperate Dan mountains of food but a course could have been just a little bit of fruit salad ... we were not eating four gargantuan platefuls a night."

Under cross-examination by Mr Carman, Mrs Hamilton said: "I do not accept for one instant that we were greedy at the Ritz."

Mr Carman said: "You must be aware that there were cash payments made by Mr Al Fayed to your husband."

Mrs Hamilton said: "If they did, I would have known about them. There is no way my husband can conceal them. They did not take place. No vouchers, no money, no collection, no couriers with money - nothing."

The trial continues.