Willetts to face the cameras

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The Independent Online
David Willetts, the Paymaster General, and a close ally of John Major, is to be cross-examined in front of the cameras at the Commons over allegations that he tried to fix a committee inquiry into charges of sleaze surrounding Neil Hamilton, a former fellow minister.

Mr Willetts will be questioned about a note he wrote the Government when he was a whip, saying the affair could be dealt with by "exploiting the good Tory majority" on the Select Committee on Members' Interests or by arguing that the whole matter was sub judice because of Mr Hamilton's pending libel action against the Guardian.

Mr Willetts has insisted that the note was taken out of context, and has offered to give the successor Standards and Privileges Committee his full co-operation in its investigation. Last night in private, Tony Newton, leader of the Commons and chairman of the successor committee, said that if oral evidence was taken it would be in public. The issue was referred to the committee by the Speaker, Betty Boothroyd.

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