Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

This Wheeler-Dealer Would Be the Last to Kill Himself

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

This Wheeler-Dealer Would Be the Last to Kill Himself

Article excerpt

Byline: Chris Blackhurst City Editor

ONE afternoon almost exactly three years ago, the habitues of the clubs, offices and smart apartments that make up the area around Carlton House Terrace at the back of Pall Mall had a rude shock. Lying at the bottom of the modern block of flats was the body of a man. He'd apparently fallen from an open window on the fourth floor.

He was Dr Ashraf Marwan, 62, the very wealthy son-in-law of Egypt's late President Nasser. This week, finally, sees the opening of the inquest into his death.

It looked like suicide; he was not well, he was thin and gaunt. And his health was not the only matter on his mind. In Israel, Marwan had been named as a spy who tipped off Mossad, the security service, about the coming Yom Kippur War in 1973.

With those allegations, Marwan feared for his life -- from Egyptians seeking revenge, from Israelis wanting to silence him. So, what with that and his ill health, he may have been motivated to kill himself.

But the Metropolitan Police never said that. They marked down his demise as "unexplained". There was no note, and he was due to meet people later on the day he died. The only other person known to be in the home was a servant, who heard nothing.

I knew Marwan. I cannot think of anyone less likely to commit suicide. I got to know him during the feud between Tiny Rowland and Mohamed Fayed for control of House of Fraser, the department store group that then owned Harrods.

While having no official connection with Rowland, Marwan was the Lonrho chief 's close aide and confidant. When he died, I was talking to an ex-adviser to Fayed about Marwan. He recounted how years ago, the Harrods boss had been approached by a man who said he'd been sitting in a manhole outside, bugging his office.

He'd been asked to look into two people by Marwan: one was Fayed and the other was Gerard Hoareau, exiled opposition leader from the Seychelles. Then, Hoareau had been shot dead on his doorstep in London.

Now he was scared and wished to come clean. Fayed wanted the man to name names, but before he could arrange another meeting, the man was badly beaten up in Primrose Hill and told Fayed that they could not meet. …

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