THE CURSE OF MR FAYED; Royals, Lawyers, MPs, Journalists and Even the Police . . . a Sensational New Biography of the Harrods Boss Examines

Daily Mail (London), October 23, 1998 | Go to article overview

THE CURSE OF MR FAYED; Royals, Lawyers, MPs, Journalists and Even the Police . . . a Sensational New Biography of the Harrods Boss Examines


Byline: PETER MCKAY

PRACTICALLY every day the grumbling volcano emits a cloud of fiery particles and poisonous fumes. Those closest to the awful underground disturbances steal away to higher ground.

Everyone fears a spectacular eruption. No one wants to be around when Mount Mohamed Fayed blows his top.

Experts agree that Home Secretary Jack Straw's long-delayed announcement on Mr Fayed's application for UK citizenship could provide the final seismic trigger.

As the owner of Harrods, the world's most famous department store, and a generous supporter of charities, Mr Fayed could have become a figure of great prominence in society. His wealth, good deeds and frequently expressed love for this country might have secured his family a position of respect.

Even as a boisterous, foulmouthed public clown who bribed Tory politicians and then exposed them, Mr Fayed was able to command a wide measure of public support.

We like rich men who live extravagantly, rock the boat and make enemies in the Establishment.

But Mr Fayed is much more than this, according to a devastating book by investigative writer Tom Bower. He is a compulsive liar, cheat and coward.

His insensitivity is so complete that he unblushingly offered three different versions of one appalling lie - that he knew Diana, Princess of Wales's 'final words' - and is so tied up

with himself that he had a bagpiper play a lament as he strode onto the pitch at Fulham FC (which he owns) instead of attending a memorial service for his son, Dodi.

THE biography tells of how Mr Fayed summoned Diana's sister Lady Sarah McCorquodale to Harrods, saying: 'I have something of importance to tell you.' As Bower relates: 'Unknown to the store owner, on the flight to Paris to recover Diana's body, Prince Charles had been asked by his sister-in-law: "What will happen to the coffin when we return to Britain?"

'Lifting his head and screwing up his tear-filled eyes, the future king replied: "One thing's for sure. She's not going into London in a green carriage drawn by horses." (A reference to the horse-drawn Harrods delivery service.) 'The dislike was already profound when Fayed welcomed Mrs McCorquodale, mistakenly assuming that he would be embraced in shared grief by the Spencer family.

'Insensitive to the antagonism, not least because of the friendship with Raine Spencer, Sarah's disliked stepmother, he had contrived a fantasy to bond himself to the Spencer family 'Adopting what he assumed was an appropriate, dignified pose, he told her: "I know her last words."

'In her last gasp before losing consciousness for ever, Diana had uttered a wish, he said: "Please make sure all my possessions get to my sister Sarah in Lincolnshire."

'Lady Sarah's contemptuous reaction: "Preposterous ... unbelievable." ' Mr Fayed exceeds in terms of notoriety any public figure in Britain this century. The rows and conspiracies in which he plays a starring role go to the heart of national life.

He is at war with a vast assembly of characters, ranging from Portuguese servant girls who say he's sexually harassed them to the Queen, who he believes is part of a plot to conceal the truth about the awful Paris crash which killed his son Dodi and Princess Diana.

His feverish plotting against enemies real and imagined engages the energies of lawyers, doctors, journalists and television producers.

According to this exhaustive book, he is able to mobilise Scotland Yard against employees who complain of ill-treatment.

He has constructed a nightmare world in which staff have reason to believe they are taped and filmed secretly.

Fayed has arranged around himself the most extraordinary private army of bodyguards this country has ever seen some of them, says Mr Bower, in possession of firearms.

HE KEEPS huge sums of cash in wads of [pounds sterling]50 notes which he offers to everyone who pleases him - from terrified girls summoned from the Harrods scent counters to MPs who promise to fight his corner at Westminster. …

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