Letters released to the Independent detailing acrimonious exchanges between Gilson's, the accountants, and S J Pinkney, the tax inspector chasing the debt, show that the Inland Revenue was asked last October to treat her with compassion, but it refused.
Ms St Clair - the self-styled Miss Whiplash - has not been seen since Saturday after her hired Jaguar was abandoned in a car park off Beachy Head in East Sussex, a prolific site for suicides. She was on her way to meet a journalist to whom she said she would give details of a 'dirty file', records of sex sessions with more than 200 politicians and judges.
Her accountant, Dennis Gilson, said he was concerned about previous suicide attempts. On 19 October last year, a Gilson's tax consultant, wrote to the Inland Revenue saying: 'Evidence can be supplied, should you wish to see it, that our client has made two suicide attempts directly related to pressure arising from the actions of the Inland Revenue. Both attempts necessitated hospital treatment. She is currently under treatment for nervous stress which has damaged her eyesight.' The Inland Revenue's reply, dated 23 October and signed by Mr Pinkney, dismissed the request for compassion.
Yesterday, many associates of Ms St Clair, a keen self-publicist, remained sceptical about her disappearance. Jane Conway Gordon, her literary agent; Pamela Winfield, the co-author of her biography; and Judy Piatkus, her publisher, said they did not subscribe to the suicide theory.
Sussex Police said yesterday that a woman fitting Ms St Clair's description and wearing a white plastic coat was seen on Saturday lunchtime at Beachy Head and, later, walking towards Eastbourne. At her home in Charlton, south London, officers removed videos, diaries, the contents of five filing cabinets and computer records. They said the material would be treated 'sensitively'.