27 JANUARY 2001, Page 29

Taki's consolation

From Lord Harris of High Cross Sir: I am hardly in , a position to object to Taki's rather strong complaint (High life, 20 January) against me for revealing his name (to Mr Fayed and his lawyer, though not to the public as he has now done) as one of Neil Hamilton's more generous benefactors in the original libel action. Indeed, I felt equally outraged to discover that a court order could compel me to divulge the names of people to whom I had addressed appeals — under strictly confidential cover — to support the weaker party to a perfectly legal dispute.

I deeply regret that the favourable response of between 400 and 500 individuals has ended up so unhappily, especially for the dozen or so contributing £5,000 or more, as specified by the judge. My only comfort was that Taki had already outed himself in your columns, and all the others graciously accepted that the circumstances left me no effective option but to yield to the court order.

There was, of course, never any question of donors gaining from their generosity, although I did undertake that in the event of success we would return all, or the unspent part, of the money collected. Taki was not the only one to indicate that he would not expect any repayment. In the event, his only modest consolation — not shared by others — might be that his participation has enabled him to treat his readers to another of his racy columns!


Barnet, Hertfordshire