Nadir back in UK with a 'little injustice to sort out'

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The Independent Online

Asil Nadir returned to Britain today to face fraud charges after 17 years on the run, declaring he had a "little injustice to sort out".

The fugitive tycoon said he was confident he would clear his name of the multimillion-pound allegations relating to the collapse of his Polly Peck empire that have hung over him since he fled the UK in 1993.

Nadir, 69, left his home in northern Cyprus this morning and flew via Antalya in Turkey before touching down at Luton Airport at 1.23pm.

He was whisked in a grey Jaguar with a police escort to the house in London's exclusive Mayfair district where he will have to live as part of his bail conditions.

Arriving at the property, the businessman insisted he was innocent and said he hoped to achieve justice.

Asked if he had any regrets about fleeing the UK, he said: "Absolutely not. What I regret was the behaviour that I was faced with because if I had not gone I don't think I would be alive."

Nadir, a former Conservative Party donor, refused to rule out giving more money to the new Government, telling Sky News: "We will see how life goes. We've got a little injustice to sort out."

But when asked if he had a message for his creditors, he said: "I think you need to give me a little more time before we go into all that."

Nadir was facing 66 counts of theft involving £34 million fraud allegations when he fled Britain in May 1993 for northern Cyprus, which has no extradition treaty with the UK.

He appeared in court the previous year but had not technically surrendered to his bail, so a subsequent arrest warrant, issued on the basis that he had breached his bail, was not valid.

Earlier this year, Nadir's legal team indicated he was willing to return to face trial in Britain as long as he was granted bail.

The Serious Fraud Office agreed not to oppose bail in return for stringent conditions.

The businessman is on £250,000 bail ahead of a case management hearing at the Old Bailey on September 3.

His lawyers had to hand his newly-issued British passport to Serious Fraud Office investigators within eight hours of his landing.

He is due to be fitted with an electronic tag as part of the court-imposed conditions and will be expected to report weekly to a local police station.

Reminded of the risk he was taking, Nadir said those who are innocent need not worry.

He told Sky News: "Innocent people in an objective court don't have worries about this thing.

"It's the last thing on my mind, I can assure you, because my innocence is sufficient security for me as long as we have an objective and unbiased venue to defend myself in a just way."

Nadir insisted there was no "deal" over his treatment by the UK authorities.

"I have not done a deal. My lawyers have asked for me to be granted bail before I came to England and that was decided," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"There is no deal. There is only one deal and that is, I am hoping I will see for the first time some justice."