'Profoundly dishonest' Allason may face prosecution over perjury

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The Independent Online

The former Tory MP Rupert Allason is facing criminal proceedings after a High Court judge described him yesterday as "a profoundly dishonest man", and warned that his conduct during a copyright case would be reported to the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Mr Allason, 49, a writer of espionage books under the name Nigel West, is now the third high-profile Conservative to have his integrity questioned in court, following Jonathan Aitken and Jeffrey Archer.

Mr Allason had sued the publisher Random House for damages, claiming he was the author of a book published under the name John Cairncross, the "Fifth Man" in the Cambridge spy ring, who gave information to Soviet Russia.

Mr Allason had claimed during the week-long trial that he had ghost written The Enigma Spy after a deal in 1994 with Cairncross, now dead, in return for 50 per cent of the proceeds.

But Mr Justice Laddie threw out the case in a reserved judgment, awarded indemnity costs of about £200,000 against Mr Allason and launched a scathing attack on the former member for Torbay, calling him "one of the most dishonest witnesses I have ever seen". He said: "I have come to the clearest possible conclusion that Mr Allason has told me untruth after untruth in pursuit of this claim."

The judge said Mr Allason had claimed under oath that he was never a director of St Ermin's Press, a publishing company which had tried to issue Cairncross's book. He had checked this on Mr Allason's own website directly after the trial ended last Friday and found he had described himself as "editorial director". This had been changed the following day to "editorial consultant".

Mr Justice Laddie added: "It appears to me that some time shortly after the trial had finished, but before judgment had been given, and after he had invited me to visit the website, he had arranged for the contents to be altered to support his dishonest assertion. In my view this is even more serious than the extensive untruthful evidence given by Mr Allason during the trial and I therefore intend to refer these papers [his judgment] to the DPP."

Mr Allason said the "penalty imposed" amounted to "financial destruction".