Leading Tory sues newspaper over Nadir

THE director-general of the Conservative Party is suing the Guardian newspaper for libel over an article about the handling of donations by the fugitive tycoon, Asil Nadir, to party funds.

Paul Judge alleges that the article, published in September, falsely implied that staff at Conservative Central Office - for which he is responsible - in Smith Square, central London, had resorted to 'dirty tricks' in order to obstruct inquiries by trustees acting for Nadir's creditors about donations made by him or his companies.

The front-page article reported that investigators thought their efforts to obtain precise details of Nadir's transactions with the party, to see if any monies could be reclaimed, had been obstructed. It also said the trustees were threatening court action.

The article reported that solicitors had 'been reduced to delivering copies of letters by hand to Mr Judge at Smith Square, with accompanying notes saying: 'We hope this does not get lost between the front office and your desk' '.

In a writ, issued earlier this week, Mr Judge is seeking damages for libel and an injuction restraining the Guardian from publishing similar claims.

He claims that his character and reputation have been seriously damaged by the article, and that he has suffered considerable distress, anxiety and embarrassment.

The Guardian is expected to contest the libel action.