"THIRTEEN YEARS ago, I asked a friend of mine, Ted Francis, to cover for me by saying that we were having dinner together, on the evening of September 9th 1986, when in fact I was having dinner with a close female friend at a restaurant in Chelsea. This was the day before I was accused by a newspaper of having slept with the prostitute Monica Coghlan.
"That accusation was false and, in the libel action that followed, I was fully vindicated and awarded pounds 500,000 in damages (which I donated to charity).
"I am saddened that years later Ted Francis has decided to profit from selling his story to the News of the World. The dinner on the 9th was not relevant to the trial, and it did not form any part of the evidence. Of course I should not have asked Ted to cover for me, even though it was beyond question that I was in the restaurant that night; I was simply trying to protect the person I was with (whose identity is known to the News of the World).
"I learned of the attack yesterday, on the same day that I was informed by the DTI of their response to Mr Byers' question on a letter sent to the Economist concerning Anglia. …