Fowler intervened in tax row

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The Independent Online
SIR NORMAN FOWLER, the Tory party chairman, intervened in a VAT dispute involving a company owned by the boyfriend of his Commons secretary, Conservative Central Office confirmed last night writes Andrew Gliniecki.

Sir Norman wrote to Customs and Excise on House of Commons notepaper asking them to review their decision to issue a bankruptcy notice against Ketley Goold Associates, a firm of architects, for non-payment of a VAT bill thought to total pounds 70,000.

The company is part-owned by Colin Ketley, who lives with Caroline Bell, Sir Norman's secretary of 16 years.

The letter blamed the firm's difficulties on bad debts, a theft by a former company employee and a decline in the construction industry. He said the firm hoped that a series of new contracts would help to restore its fortunes.

Sir Norman said last night that he had no reservations about sending the letter, which was of a type which he would have sent on behalf of any constituent.

He added: 'I have no business relationship of any kind with the partnership concerned whatsoever.'

A spokesman for Customs and Excise said that by the time the letter had been received, the case against Ketley Goold had been set aside because a method of payment of the outstanding tax bill had already been agreed.