Magazine article The Spectator


Magazine article The Spectator


Article excerpt

You're barmy

Sir: Mr Paul Johnson (And another thing, 22 March) calls me a 'wog', repeats it, says it again adding 'oleaginous', appears to settle for `old fakir' (wrong country) before falling back on the Lonrho-inspired cliche, 'Pharaoh'.

If he is no longer able to raise the debate above the level of vulgar abuse, Mr Johnson should call it a day. Tapping out his weekly tirade for you on Sunday mornings before tripping off to Mass probably relieves all sorts of pressures, but it hardly addresses the fact that what I have done to clean up public life in this country has led to the resignations of four government ministers and has given Michael Howard a nasty fright. He is keeping very quiet about that and it is not over yet.

It must be distressing for Mr Johnson to see people he has sucked up to for years exposed in their true colours by someone like me whom he despises on racist grounds. He says I have `lost my marbles' but if he seriously believes that I am working with the Conservative party, as he states twice, then he is so far up his own alley he doesn't know what game he is supposed to be playing.

Far from deterring me, Mr Johnson's ravings only show how rotten much of the body politic has become, and I shall not be afraid to continue revealing the truth even though such a course carries personal risks. If being deported is one of them, then this is not the country of freedom, democracy and justice I have always believed it to be and where I provide worthwhile employment for 5,000 British people. During the 30 years I have lived here, I have not incurred as much as a parking ticket but I have brought in billions of pounds of business for British companies and pay 3 million in personal income tax every year, not counting the 25 million my companies contribute to the national exchequer. What has Mr Johnson ever done for his country apart from changing his political coat every few years?

His wish to see me `frogmarched onto the plane at Heathrow' will go with him when the men in flapping coats arrive to prise his fingers off the keyboard. What was it the British squaddies based near my home in Alexandria used to call out? Ah yes, `Ginger, you're barmy.' Anyway, I have a Gulfstream G4 and my own private air terminal at Heathrow.

M. Al Fayed

Harrods, Knightsbridge, London SW1

Sir: Paul Johnson's piece may have puzzled some readers. Why does Mr Johnson rage against Mohamed Al Fayed, Brian Mawhinney, the Guardian, Peter Preston, me, Stephen Glover and The Spectator? Does he really believe that Mr Al Fayed, who has caused the sacking of four Tory ministers, is somehow in cahoots with the Conservative party against the Labour party and Sir James Goldsmith's Referendum party? In my own case, Mr Johnson mentions `dubious insinuations' I've made in the Daily Mail's Ephraim Hardcastle column. Since he's coy about spelling these out, allow me to help. I said Sir Charles Powell and his wife Carla - friends of Mr Johnson - had given evidence to Sir Gordon Downey, who was investigating bribery charges made against the Home Secretary Michael Howard by Mohamed Al Fayed. The Powells confirmed to Sir Gordon that they were friends of Mr Al Fayed and Mrs Al Fayed. Lady Powell said she had `no desire to contradict' Mr Al Fayed, but denied she had told him Mr Howard had ordered a DTI investigation of Harrods. After several discussions with the couple Sir Gordon accepted Sir Charles and Lady Powell's version of events.

These `dubious insinuations,' as Mr Johnson calls them, came from Sir Gordon's report (HMSO, 14.70). Both Ephraim Hardcastle and Stephen Glover later mentioned a video produced by Mr Al Fayed in evidence in which Lady Powell is seen dancing around the tycoon's office, calling him 'darling' and saying Margaret Thatcher 'ruined' the Powells' lives by failing to ennoble Sir Charles. This, too, was part of the evidence considered by Sir Gordon Downey.

Sir Charles was Margaret Thatcher's private secretary. …

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