Mystery bug from Nadir papers puts fraud prosecutor in hospital

The long-awaited criminal trial of the business tycoon Asil Nadir has been hampered once more after investigators examining the 17-year-old evidence fell ill because of a bacterial infection found in the files.

Mr Nadir, who is now 69, fled from Britain in 1993 just before he was due to stand trial on charges of theft relating to a £34m fraud connected to the collapse of his Polly Peck business empire.

At the time, Mr Nadir claimed he would not receive a fair trial. However, he returned to the UK from the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus last month and is expected to face trial next year.

But yesterday at the second hearing at the Old Bailey since his return, the court was told of two factors which could potentially complicate the trial further. The first was not entirely unexpected: that 18 potential witnesses in the case have died. But the second factor was quite bizarre.

Philip Shears QC, prosecuting, explained that fraud investigators had been struck down by a bug from some of the 1,400 boxes of papers being resurrected from storage for the case. This had resulted in one member of staff being treated in hospital and other staff being ordered to wear protective clothing.

"A microbial organism caused one member to go to hospital for burns and difficulties," Mr Shears said. "Health and safety issues have had to be thought about."

In addition to issuing staff with masks, goggles and aprons, some 900 boxes would be given thermal treatment "to negate it", the barrister added. The trial judge, Mr Justice Holroyde, sympathised with staff but added: "Let's hope there will be no damage to the documents."

Mr Shears added that the 18 witnesses were among 283 people being traced by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) following Mr Nadir's return to the UK. The barrister said that 201 witnesses had been traced.

It was previously explained that, because of the passage of time and questions about the reliability of evidence which would ideally have been heard 17 years ago, Mr Nadir is expected to face a much smaller charge sheet than the 66 counts he faced in 1993.

Mr Nadir is due to face trial in October next year, and was appearing yesterday at a directions hearing. Wearing a dark grey suit with a white silk handkerchief in his breast pocket, he was – in an unusual move – allowed to leave the dock and sit next to his solicitor in the well of the court. The judge said he was acceding to a request from the defence only because he had been informed that Mr Nadir had a hearing difficulty.

During yesterday's hearing, the defence's counsel, William Clegg QC, complained to Mr Justice Holroyde that Richard Alderman, the director of the SFO, had made "a mischievous attempt to manipulate the press". Mr Clegg said Mr Alderman had tried to gain favour for the SFO in an article in a national newspaper. The court was told that Mr Alderman had no further plans to comment on the case.

Mr Justice Holroyde said: "There is, of course, a public interest in this case. It is entirely appropriate that the press should publish legitimate reports of the proceedings." But he gave warning that nothing should be published which prejudiced one side or another.

Remanding Mr Nadir on bail – which includes an electronic-tagging condition – the judge reminded him that if he did not turn up, the court could continue the case without him.

Mr Nadir replied: "I understand, my lord, and I have been attending meticulously."

News
Russell Brand was in typically combative form during his promotional interview with Newsnight's Evan Davis
peopleReports that Brand could stand for Mayor on an 'anti-politics' ticket
News
The clocks go forward an hour at 1am on Sunday 30 March
news
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor finds himself in a forest version of London in Doctor Who episode 'In the Forest of the Night'
TVReview: Is the Doctor ever going stop frowning? Apparently not.
News
Voluminous silk drawers were worn by Queen Victoria
newsThe silk underwear is part of a growing trade in celebrity smalls
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
footballMatch report: Real fight back to ruin Argentinian's debut
News
Candidates with surnames that start with an A have an electoral advantage
newsVoters are biased towards names with letters near start of alphabet
Arts and Entertainment
Isis with Lord Grantham (Hugh Bonneville)
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jay James
TVReview: Performances were stale and cheesier than a chunk of Blue Stilton left out for a month
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?