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Issue number 25 Monday the 7th of July 1997

Tatton Park
Sixties America meets 90's Cheshire at the American Car Show, Tatton Park
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The long awaited report on allegations of "sleaze" among MP's came out on Thursday, and found that controversial local ex-MP Neil Hamilton had accepted cash from individuals in a way which fell below the standards of the House of Commons.

According to the report, written by Sir Gordon Downey, the Conservative ex-Trade Minister received payments from Harrods owner Mohammed Al-Fayed, who also paid for a hotel room in Paris for Mr and Mrs Hamilton. According to normal House of Commons procedures, MP's are supposed to declare such payments. If in doubt, they should register, but in the case of Mr Hamilton, Sir Gordon stated: "Mr Hamilton seems to have adopted the opposite principle and, if in doubt, gave himself the benefit of it."

Despite the findings of the report, Mr Hamilton continues to assert that he did nothing wrong. After newspaper reports in 1995 about him receiving "money in brown envelopes", he came under pressure to stand down as an MP, but insisted on standing as Conservative MP for Tatton in the 1997 general election. In the weeks leading up to the election, BBC journalist Martin Bell was drafted in as an "anti-sleaze" candidate, and ended up taking the Tatton seat from Neil Hamilton with a substantial majority. In a recent interview, Mr Bell said he felt sympathy for Mr Hamilton, but stated the ousted MP had brought the problems on himself.

The Hamiltons are said to be facing financial ruin, and have been making paid television appearances. Yesterday they hosted a programme on Talk Radio. The Tatton constituency includes the towns of Knutsford, Wilmslow and Macclesfield, as well as a large rural area which under normal circumstances is solidly Conservative in its allegiance.

Should Neil Hamilton admit defeat? How honest are the elected representatives where you are?

Trafford Centre
Work continues on the Trafford Centre (above), located adjacent to the M62 and the Manchester Ship Canal. The giant new shopping mall will feature themed areas similar to Disneyland, and will be adorned on the exterior with a large number of statues, which are currently being kept firmly under wraps.

After more than a week of painstaking work, the police search of Boggart Hole Clough for the remains of missing Openshaw boy Jamie Lavis was called off. The telephone tip-off would appear to have been a false lead. The police are now pursuing other lines of enquiry.

I was an eyewitness to the aftermath of a knife attack in the city centre last Friday lunchtime. Walking up Bridge Street, I looked to my left and saw three men involved in a scuffle. Two of them I later found out were policemen, and they were disarming a man with a knife, who looked as if he was either drunk or on drugs. They managed to overpower him, held him down and handcuffed him. Other police officers arrived within seconds and the man was bundled into the back of a police van. The two policemen involved in the attack sustained cuts, and were given first aid on the side of the street by their colleagues.

In all my years of walking round Manchester city centre, this is the first time I have seen an incident like this, and hopfully the last. How the two policemen came to be with the knife attacker, I don't know. The man was arrested and will shortly be charged.

Manchester's most famous night club, the Hacienda, has run into financial difficulties and was closed indefinitely last week. The club opened in 1982 and drew nightclubbers from all over the country and even abroad. At the moment, the venue's future is uncertain, but there are plenty of other clubs to go to in Manchester, once described as having more night clubs than any other city in Europe.

Fashionable Manchester icons, Oasis, have just released a new recording entitled "D'you know what I mean". The CD officially went on sale on the 7th of July, and the HMV record shop, at the top of Market Street, opened its doors at midnight to allow fans to purchase the new release hot off the press. Many queued for several hours to be among the first to buy the single, which will probably go into the charts at number one.

Would you queue up for several hours to buy the new Oasis release?

Jodrell BankManchester University's ear on the universe, Jodrell Bank radio telescope, is playing a part in the search for intelligent extra-terrestrial life. (Click on the picture for another view) The Lovell telescope will spend eight weeks searching for signals from other parts of the galaxy as part of Project Phoenix, an American initiative funded by Stephen Spielberg and others. Radio astronomers at Jodrell Bank will work in conjunction with those at the Arecibo telescope in Puerto Rico. The use of two telescopes is necessary to filter out signals from satellites or local interference.

Summer returned to the region last Thursday, with blue skies and high temperatures which have extended through the weekend and are set to continue. Temperatures will rise tomorrow to well over 70 degrees fahrenheit, 20 degrees celsius. The pleasant spell is due to an area of high pressure roughly occupying the location over central England of last week's low pressure zone.

Crowds have been watching the cricket teams of Australia and England playing the Third Test at Old Trafford. Exactly fifty years ago this weekend, people were watching England play South Africa. This and more in Manchester Eyewitness

News has been coming through today of a bus crash in south east France involving children from St James Church of England School, Farnworth, near Bolton. Nicole Moore, 16, and Robert Boardman, 14, were killed. 25 others were injured, one seriously. The accident happened on a winding road in the French Alps between the villages of Notre Dame Du Pre and Longefoy. Staff and pupils at the school are in a state of shock, and the parents of some of the injured children are planning to fly to France tonight to be with their children. The Foreign Office has issued a number for relatives: 0171 238 4521.

Text and photos by Aidan O'Rourke


IT LOOKS AS IF EYEWITNESS IN MANCHESTER WILL BE FEATURED LATER THIS WEEK ON THE BBC LOCAL MAGAZINE PROGRAMME "NORTHWEST TONIGHT". MANY THANKS FOR YOUR CONTINUED SUPPORT AND ENCOURAGEMENT. I HOPE TO FEATURE DETAILS OF THE TV COVERAGE IN EYEWITNESS IN MANCHESTER FROM NEXT WEEK.
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