DeLay to appear in court for fraud case

Mr DeLay, for a long time one of the most powerful Republican politicians in Washington, and an organiser of President Bush's legislative programme, will probably now have to submit to the fingerprinting and photo mugshot he had hoped to avoid. Bail has been set at $10,000 (£5,000).

His lawyers described the move as "a matter of routine," but would not say when he would surrender to the authorities.

The charges involve claims that a Texas political organisation founded by the Mr DeLay channelled corporate money to Republican candidates for the state's legislature through the national Republican Party, based in Washington. Under Texas law, the use of corporate money to fund state campaigns is illegal.

Mr DeLay insists he has done nothing wrong and he is victim of a witch-hunt by an over-zealous Democratic prosecutor. The election in 2002, resulted in a Republican majority in the state legislature. That, in turn, enabled the party to redraw Texas districts.