Hamilton offers new evidence in Fayed case appeal

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The Independent Online

Neil Hamilton, the former Conservative minister, is to be allowed to go to the Court of Appeal in a bid to overturn Mohamed Al Fayed's libel victory.

Neil Hamilton, the former Conservative minister, is to be allowed to go to the Court of Appeal in a bid to overturn Mohamed Al Fayed's libel victory.

The ex-MP's wife Christine said that a date of 11 December had been set for the hearing before three judges, which is expected to last up to two weeks.

Mr Hamilton has been told that he will be allowed to take the legally unusual course of introducing new evidence not presented in last year's High Court battle, she said last night.

The new evidence involves allegations that Mr Al Fayed, the owner of Harrods, paid £10,000 for copies of papers stolen from bins outside Mr Hamilton's lawyers' offices, giving him advance notice of their line of questioning. A police inquiry into the alleged theft is continuing.

Mrs Hamilton said that her husband would argue that, if the allegations are correct, Mr Al Fayed enjoyed an advantage not open to Mr Hamilton in fighting the case. The tycoon has rejected the allegations.

Last year's hearings at the High Court were one of the most sensational libel trials of the 1990s. They stemmed from Mr Hamilton's claim that Mr Al Fayed had libelled him by claiming that he accepted cash in brown envelopes in return for asking questions in Parliament.

A defeated Mr Hamilton was ordered to pay Mr Al Fayed's £500,000 legal costs, but this order was put on hold after the theft allegations emerged.

The Hamiltons, just back from a holiday in Spain, hope that victory on appeal will mean Mr Fayed paying their costs and will save them from having to sell their £750,000 home in Nether Alderley, Cheshire.