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Clinton has sexual harassment case delayed

The United States Supreme Court yesterday delayed the sexual harassment case brought against President Bill Clinton by the former Arkansas state employee Paula Jones until after the November presidential election.

Without comment, the country's highest court agreed to consider Mr Clinton's appeal that because of the "unique responsibilities" of his job, private civil suits against a sitting president should not go forward until he leaves office. The court will hear arguments this autumn, and issue a ruling probably in early 1997. Ms Jones alleges that Mr Clinton, then Governor of Arkansas, exposed himself and asked her for sex in a hotel in Little Rock, Arkansas, in May 1991.

But the White House is still enmeshed in a host of controversies that will offer the Republicans rich fodder for the campaign. After the weekend light relief of Hillary Clinton's White House "seances" in which she conversed with Eleanor Roosevelt and Mahatma Gandhi, serious business returns with more Congressional hearings on the FBI files affair. The White House insists it requested and received more than 400 confidential FBI background files - some of them on leading Republicans - as a result of a 1993 bureaucratic mistake, centred on an old list of White House pass-holders. The Secret Service, however, says such lists were kept scrupulously up to date - allowing the Republicans to claim the Clinton Administration was seeking dirt on potential opponents, much as did Richard Nixon's White House two decades earlier, in what would become the Watergate scandal.

Meanwhile, Mrs Clinton issued a statement saying her conversation with Mrs Roosevelt had been an intellectual, not a spiritual exercise. "The bottom line is: I have no spiritual advisers or any other alternative to my deeply held Methodist faith and traditions upon which I have relied since childhood, " she said.