The Attack on Sleaze: Police asked to study papers

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The Independent Online
A parliamentary claim that Mohamed al-Fayed tried to blackmail John Major was given fresh impetus yesterday when papers at the centre of the allegation were passed to Scotland Yard, writes Steve Boggan.

Notes of a meeting between the Prime Minister and an 'informant' - widely rumoured to be Brian Hitchen, editor of the Sunday Express - were sent to senior officers after being studied personally by Barbara Mills, the Director of Public Prosecutions.

The Crown Prosecution Service said notes of the meeting at 10 Downing Street on 29 September had been given to David Veness, the assistant commissioner for special operations, to see whether they merited a full investigation.

The notes contain details of a conversation between Mr Major and the informant regarding allegations about government ministers that Mr Fayed may have been preparing to make public.

In a report on the allegations raised by the informant, Sir Robin Butler, the Cabinet Secretary, said Mr Fayed had asked for the withdrawal or revision of the damning Department of Trade and Industry report into his acquisition of House of Fraser.

The Prime Minister said he had refused to do a deal with the Harrods chairman; Mr Fayed denied sending an intermediary or making any demands. The CPS said Mr Veness had 'agreed to consider whether to carry out an investigation' but it also said a senior officer, Chief Superintendent Roy Clark, had been 'appointed . . . to head the inquiry'.

Last night Downing Street refused to comment on the DPP's decision. Mr Hitchen refused to confirm or deny his involvement.