The Mates Affair: City police blamed for forged letter from Steel

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The Independent Online
THE Serious Fraud Office yesterday blamed police colleagues for forging a letter from Sir David Steel, the former Liberal leader, reviving calls for an inquiry into the SFO's operations, writes Colin Brown.

Denying that any of its lawyers were involved, the SFO said in a statement that the letter had been 'written and sent by an officer or officers of the City of London police who had been working in conjunction with the SFO on the BCCI investigation'.

Alex Carlile, the Liberal Democrat MP, yesterday accused the City of London police working with the SFO of forging a second letter with the name of a top London solicitor. This letter, on headed notepaper from a firm of solicitors, bore the forged signature of David Freeman, a consultant to City solicitors specialising in corporate affairs.

It came as a covering letter with the forged letter from Sir David, which said Sir David would be in court to support the plea for bail by a defendant facing allegations by the SFO. The letters, dated 1 April, were discovered at the hearing before a judge of the appeal for bail by Nazmu Virani. 'It may have been intended as an April Fool's joke, but it was not very funny,' a spokesman for the solicitors said last night.

Mr Carlile said he also had an SFO press notice indicating that the press had been tipped off about the raids on Mr Virani. He said it confirmed the need for a speedy independent inquiry into the SFO.