Hamilton rape accuser faces jail for perverting justice

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The Independent Online

A woman who falsely claimed she had been raped by the former Tory MP Neil Hamilton and his wife was facing a lengthy jail sentence last night.

Nadine Milroy-Sloan, 29, was convicted of two charges of perverting the course of justice. A jury found her guilty of fabricating the story in pursuit of money and celebrity friends.

Judge Simon Smith, sitting at the Old Bailey, bailed Milroy-Sloan pending psychiatric reports but warned her that when she returned on 13 June she might be sentenced to "a substantial period of custody".

The jury was told Milroy-Sloan invented the attack after meeting Barry Lehaney, who posed as the Hamiltons' chauffeur, in his flat in Ilford, east London. She had already approached the publicist Max Clifford with her story and was paid £50,000 by the News of the World to reveal her identity.

Shortly before the trial began in March, she dropped the allegations against the Hamiltons, explaining it was a case of mistaken identity.

Yesterday the Hamiltons said they were relieved but criticised police for arresting them in August 2001 ­ 10 weeks after the allegations were made ­ without any evidence or and for failing to establish that they had a firm alibi.

The couple, whose ordeal was filmed as part of a documentary by Louis Theroux, refused to discuss whether they were considering further legal action against the police. Christine Hamilton said after the verdict: "We've known right from the outset that what she said about us was a pack of lies. It's cost the taxpayer a fortune. The police have brought the prosecution, so the taxpayer pays for that. She's been on legal aid, so the taxpayer pays for that. The whole thing has just been a grotesque charade."

Her husband added: "At the time it was terribly traumatic, and everybody saw live television coverage, particularly of the way it affected Christine."

Milroy-Sloan, from Grimsby, was described in court as a "sex-obsessed" divorcée who wanted to make celebrity friends. Posing as "Sexybabe" in an internet sex-chatroom, she made contact with someone posing as a bisexual woman aristocrat, who turned out to be Mr Lehaney, a 19-stone asthmatic living in an east London bedsit.

Milroy-Sloan became convinced she was in contact with Christine Hamilton. When Mr Lehaney posed as the Hamiltons' chauffeur and suggested a meeting to take part in a sex party involving the couple she accepted. Two days before the meeting Milroy-Sloan visited Mr Clifford, who estimated the story would sell for £100,000.

Although she realised she had been duped by Mr Lehaney, she spent the night with him and committed a sexual act to obtain a semen sample, which she hoped would bolster the rape allegations.

Mr Lehaney said later: "It's been a nightmare for me. She deserves a long sentence." Prosecuting counsel Orlando Pownall QC said Milroy-Sloan was a "cunning but naive" fantasist who had "damaged the credibility of every rape victim who comes forward".