The Cash-for-Questions Affair: Major picks insider for vacant post

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The Independent Online
THE appointment of Malcolm Moss, 51, to fill the vacancy left by the resignation of Tim Smith as a junior Northern Ireland minister, was a smooth operation to plug a nasty gap in the Government. Mr Moss, regarded as a loyal supporter of the Government, was the Parliamentary Private Secretary to Sir Patrick Mayhew, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.

As an insider, he intimately knows the department and will be well-versed in the difficult steps about to be taken towards turning the IRA and loyalist ceasefires into lasting peace.

Mr Moss entered the Commons for the safe Cambridgeshire North East seat in 1987. He was appointed Parliamentary Private Secretary to Tristan Garel-Jones, the foreign minister in charge of getting the Maatricht treaty through the Commons. His entry in the register of members' interests shows that Mr Moss is a director of Mandrake Associates, a wholly- owned subsidiary of Hambro Countrywide plc, an estate agency, life insurance and financial services company. He also receives consultancy fees from Hambro Countrywide plc and has shares in the company. As a minister, he will have to suspend those business interests.

He was educated at Audenshaw grammar school and St John's College, Cambridge, and is regarded as a capable politician on the Majorite centre of the Conservative Party with a safe pair of hands.

A libel action brought by Mr Moss against the Independent was settled in the High Court yesterday.

The newspaper agreed to pay susbtantial damages and costs in respect of an article which Mr Moss said had suggested he had lied about wages he had earned while researching the pay of agricultural gang workers by spending a day in the fields picking onions. The newspaper apologised and explained it had never been the intention to suggest this.

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