Manager loses job over Lamont lies

David Connett
Tuesday 15 December 1992 00:02 GMT

AN OFF-LICENCE manager who claimed that Norman Lamont bought cheap champagne and cigarettes at his shop has left his job after admitting he made up the story, the company said last night.

His deputy, who also confessed to fabricating the report but was not directly responsible, had been disciplined and would return to work, a company spokesman said.

David Newton, manager of the Thresher's branch in Praed Street, Paddington, west London, and John Onanuga, his assistant, attended a disciplinary hearing at Thresher's headquarters in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire, yesterday.

They had claimed the Chancellor spent pounds 17.47 on a bottle of Bricout champagne and a packet of Raffles cigarettes at their branch on 16 November.

The story was denied by the Chancellor and by Thresher's, who said that it was 'wholly inaccurate'.

Mr Lamont said he bought three bottles of wine at a branch near Marble Arch the day before, while returning from his official residence in Buckinghamshire. The Treasury produced a till receipt backing his claim.

In a statement, Thresher's said that Mr Newton 'was primarily responsible for the fabrication and for what has taken place since'. It did not disclose the action taken against Mr Onanuga.

Both men's claims followed national newspaper revelations that the Chancellor had problems with his credit card. The story disclosed that Mr Lamont was pounds 470 over his credit limit. It was also revealed he had exceeded his limit 22 times in eight years and had been sent five written warnings about failures to make payments.

A spokesman for National Westminster Bank said yesterday that it was still investigating how details of Mr Lamont's Access credit card dealings were leaked.

He refused to comment on reports that the Chancellor had agreed to remain with the bank despite the disclosure.

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