Letter: Codes can't cure sleaze disease

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The Independent Online
Sir: Whatever the moral rights or wrongs of the perks accorded by Mohammed al-Fayed to Neil Hamilton and his wife at the Paris Ritz, I feel that your reporting of the facts presents a distorted picture ('Heaven on earth at pounds 295 a night', 22 October).

Impressed by your quoting of a pounds 4,200 bill for six days' stay, I read on, only to find that the Paris Ritz is owned by the al-Fayed brothers.

Assuming that no other high-paying guest was turned away to make space for the Hamiltons, the true cost of the gift was therefore marginal and dramatically lower.

Presumably, no extra staff were engaged by either the housekeeper, the master chef or the restaurant manager and the effect on the energy bill was barely discernible. The food and drinks cost benefited from bulk purchase at prices well below the mountainous 'mark ups' indicated. Even the lavish American breakfast had a probable food cost of just a few devalued pounds.

All in all, it is highly likely that this spendiferous event cost the al- Fayeds a true outlay of no more than pounds 300 or pounds 400.

Yours faithfully, BERNARD HILTON Sheffield, South Yorkshire 24 October