Al Fayed denies sex assault allegations

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LONDON: Mohamed Al Fayed, owner of London s Harrods department store, denied an allegation of sexual assault on a girl aged under 16, after he was interviewed by police Wednesday.

Al Fayed voluntarily went to a west London police station to answer questions about the alleged incident in May.

The Egyptian tycoon s spokeswoman Katharine Witty said Al Fayed was confident his name would be cleared.

London s Metropolitan Police said in a statement that a man attended a police station and was questioned under caution in relation to an allegation of sexual assault on a girl under 16 at a business premises in central London. The allegation was received in May 2008.

In keeping with British police convention, they did not confirm the identity of the man questioned.

In a statement outside the plush Harrods emporium, Witty said: Mohamed Al Fayed today voluntarily attended an interview with police to categorically refute an allegation widely reported in the media.

He did not attend under compulsion and the meeting lasted for less than half an hour.

From the outset, details of this allegation have appeared in the media which they attributed to a police source.

And indeed despite assurances that today s interview would be kept confidential, he is concerned that it was reported within one hour of its conclusion.

Mr Al Fayed vehemently denies this allegation and is confident that his name will be cleared.

It is unclear whether Al Fayed was questioned as a witness or played some other part in the alleged incident. There have been no arrests in the inquiry so far.

The Mail on Sunday newspaper had reported that a 15-year-old girl had accused an unnamed senior Harrods executive of fondling and kissing her after meeting him while shopping with her mother.

Al Fayed s son Dodi was killed alongside Diana, princess of Wales in a Paris car crash in 1997 and he waged a decade-long battle to expose what he said was the truth about an establishment plot to stop Diana marrying a Muslim.

When the inquest into their deaths ended in London in April, Al Fayed said he accepted its verdict of unlawful killing, which blamed the couple s chauffeur and pursuing photographers, but he said he had reservations .

Al Fayed also owns the English Premier League football club Fulham. -AFP

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