Magazine article The Spectator

This Is an Outrage

Magazine article The Spectator

This Is an Outrage

Article excerpt

Rougemont

A couple of years or so ago I received a letter from a Lord Harris of High Cross, a man I had never met, or ever heard of for that matter. It had to do with the Neil Hamilton case against Mohamed Fayed, and he was asking for my financial support. I have never met, spoken to, or corresponded with either litigant, although Fayed and I have exchanged barbs in these pages.

Harris's letter was straight to the point. It said that Hamilton's career had been ruined by a monstrous lie on the part of Fayed, and that the ex-MP needed to raise funds in order to take the Egyptian to court and set things right. Despite not knowing anything about Hamilton, except for what I had read in the newspapers, I provisionally pledged 5,000 in a letter I dictated to my girl Friday Fiona Garland. I heard nothing for quite some time, and figured that was just as well: British courts of law and lawyers have not been very favourable to the poor little Greek boy.

Then Lord Harris rang me out of the blue to say `Please, do come and have a drink in the House of Lords. I do wish so much to meet you in person.' Although flattered that a life peer was so anxious to meet me, I nevertheless rang my friend Paul Johnson and asked him if Harris was OK. According to the sage, he was, so I had my girl Friday make an appointment with Lord Harris. Alas, one that I missed owing to an extremely late night out with some floozies. Looking back, that's when the trouble started. I was so embarrassed by my bad manners, that by the time I did meet Harris, on the terrace of the House of Lords, I was the one begging - for forgiveness - rather than him asking me for more funds. Which he did straight off the bat. He told me that unless I improved my pledge, Hamilton would not be able to bring his case to court, and 'a great miscarriage of justice will have taken place for lack of funds'. He was polite but made me feel I would be responsible if Hamilton did not make it.

Now I'm a big boy and all that, but the guilt lies deep, especially where the moolah is concerned. I reminded Harris that I had never met either man, and didn't particularly care, but I pledged a further 5,000 because I did believe that Fayed told monstrous lies and had never proved his case against Hamilton. …

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