The Cash-for-Questions Affair: Tim Smith's final letter as a minister

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The Independent Online
TIM SMITH wrote to John Major: 'Dear Prime Minister, 'Earlier this week you asked the Chief Whip and the Cabinet Secretary to speak to me about allegations that had been made recently about my involvement with Mr Mohamed Al Fayed.

'As I explained to them, I was introduced to Mr Al Fayed in 1986. I believed he had legitimate concerns about Mr Rowland's attacks on him, and agreed to help him.

'I raised some of these concerns in Parliamentary Questions and in an adjournment debate. Mr Al Fayed paid me fees. I ended this relationship with him in 1989. Shortly before then, I made an appropriate entry in the Register of Members' Interests.

'I should emphasise that, while I did have a business relationship with Mr Al Fayed, I included the payments I received when I drew up my tax returns; and the relationship lasted for a limited period only.

'But, I acknowledge, I did not declare all the necessary information in the Register of Members' Interests until close to the end of my consultancy, and I should have done so before then. And, during this period, I did raise Al Fayed issues in the House of Commons. However, there was no deliberate intention to conceal.

'Nonetheless, I realise that these circumstances may be misinterpreted to the damage both of myself and of the Government.

'I offer you my profound apologies. Naturally, in these circumstances, I offer you my resignation.'

Mr Major's replied: 'Dear Tim, 'Thank you for your letter setting out the details of your relationship with Mr Al Fayed in the 1980s.

'I note that this was a relationship for which you received payment, and that you included this income in your tax returns. However it is clear that this interest was not properly registered in the Register of Members' Interests at the time when you raised Mr Al Fayed's interests on the floor of the House of Commons.

'I accept your account of the background to this. None the less, it was clearly wrong, and in these circumstances I accept your resignation.'