Jonathan Aitken, recently put in charge of the Conservative Party’s task force on prison reform, may reflect that he owes his appointment in part to the Hotel Bristol in Villars, Switzerland (right). In 1993 Mohamad Al Fayad, owner of the Ritz hotel in Paris, told the Guardian newspaper that Aitken, then Minister of State for Defence Procurement, had been staying at his hotel, and his bill had been paid by Saudi businessman Said Ayas, adviser to King Fahd’s son, Prince Mohammed. Aitken denied this, claiming that his wife, Lolicia, had paid the bill, and he sued the paper. The case looked as it was going his way until the eleventh hour, when Al Fayad revealed the log of phone calls made by Aitken from the Ritz on the morning of his departure, including calls to the Hotel Bristol in Villars. A Guardian reporter sped to the hotel where he found its papers in boxes, as it was going through a change of ownership. For three days he sifted through them until he discovered that on the day in question Lolicia Aitken and her mother had been staying at the Swiss hotel – so they could not have been at the Ritz to pay the bill. Jailed for perjury, Aitken served seven of his 18-month jail term, providing him with the basis of his new career.
For the full story, see The Minister Who Didn't Pay his Bill
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