Tories face demands to clarify Nadir links: Questions over deputy chairman's role

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The Independent Online
LABOUR has asked the Conservative Party to clarify the nature of the relationship between Gerald Malone, its deputy chairman, and the fugitive tycoon, Asil Nadir. So far, Sir Norman Fowler, the Tory chairman, has refused to respond.

Frank Dobson, Labour's transport spokesman, who takes a special interest in Tory party funding, has written to Sir Norman asking for an immediate reply to a series of questions he posed in a letter last August.

'The Tories must come clean about their dealings with Mr Nadir,' he said, adding that this was the first time he could remember that a letter to a chairman of the Tory party had not been answered. Conservative Central Office said yesterday that it did not intend to reply to the letter. A spokesman said: 'We're not going to answer. We don't reply to every letter and we felt it wasn't worth replying.'

Nadir was one of the Tory party's most substantial donors before the collapse of his company in 1990 amid allegations of serious criminal misconduct.

He fled the UK last May while facing charges of theft and false accounting involving more than pounds 30m. At the time Mr Malone said he had never had dealings with the bankrupt founder of Polly Peck. Mr Malone, MP for Winchester, worked as a consultant for Nadir's public relations agent, Christopher Morgan. He continued to do so until three weeks after Nadir fled.

Mr Malone said that he had terminated the relationship with Mr Morgan because he did not have time to spare.

Mr Malone was forced in August to admit that he had, in fact, met Nadir after an investigation by the Independent on Sunday. He had attended at least one long meeting at Nadir's house in December 1992. Mr Morgan was present, as were two of Nadir's assistants.

In his original letter to Sir Norman Fowler, Mr Dobson asked Sir Norman to confirm that 'contrary to statements (Gerald Malone) previously made to several newspapers, Gerry Malone has had dealings with Asil Nadir . . . while he was deputy chairman of the Tory party and while Asil Nadir was out on bail'.

Mr Malone said at the time of Nadir's flight that he had no knowledge that Christopher Morgan acted for Nadir and that he personally had never had any dealings or been involved with him.

When confronted with evidence of the meeting, Mr Malone denied lying. He said that he had never 'met Nadir with a view to making representations on his behalf. That is true'.

Conservative Central Office said yesterday: 'The fact that Mr Malone forgot that he met Nadir doesn't really matter. The main thing is that at no time did he make any direct representations on his behalf or do any work for him.'

Mr Malone was not available for comment.

Michael Heseltine, the President of the Board of Trade, Michael Mates, the former Northern Ireland minister who resigned as a result of his friendship with Nadir, and Peter Brooke, acting as Nadir's constituency MP, have all acknowledged that they separately approached the Attorney General on Nadir's behalf.