Hamiltons denounce 'scandal' of their arrests

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The Independent Online

The former Tory minister Neil Hamilton denounced the decision to arrest him and his wife, Christine, over an alleged sexual assault as a "public scandal" yesterday.

After a day of intense media attention and amid a flurry of newspaper accounts detailing the allegations against them and their statements to police, Mr Hamilton, 52, insisted that claims made against the couple by a young woman were clearly a "complete tissue of lies and fabrications.

"The mystery is that the police have taken them seriously enough to arrest two totally innocent people before they have heard their side of the story," he said, as the couple prepared to leave their flat in London for their home in Cheshire.

Mr Hamilton said they would try to establish how details of their arrest were made known to journalists and promised "further repercussions".

The Hamiltons were held for five hours on Friday at Barkingside police station, east London, after voluntarily submitting themselves for interview by detectives. They were released on police bail after being questioned over claims that they had performed indecent acts on the young woman while she was being raped by another man.

Their co-accused, Barry Lehaney, also protested his innocence. "I never had sex with the woman," he said. "I never even kissed her. There is not a shred of evidence against me."