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Letter sent to Privy Council

Queen Accepts Aitken's Resignation

The Queen has accepted Jonathan Aitken's resignation from the Privy Council. The news was confirmed in a statement from Downing Street.

The Privy Council, the elite group of advisers to the Queen, met at Buckingham Palace on Thursday amid speculation over Mr Aitken's future.

Pressure for Mr Aitken to resign the prestigious post increased since the police disclosed they had begun an investigation into allegations of perjury and perverting the course of justice after he abandoned his libel action against Granada Television and The Guardian newspaper.

The former MP, who lost his Thanet South seat in the general election, may even be interviewed by detectives.

Last week Mr Aitken suddenly abandoned his libel case against The Guardian newspaper and a television company.

They had alleged he had accepted financial favours from the Saudi Arabian government, and had been involved in secret weapons deals with Arab countries.

Two former disgraced ministers, John Profumo and John Stonehouse, have also resigned from the Council, but no one has been thrown off since 1921 when Sir Edgar Speyer was struck off for collaborating with the Germans in the First World War.

The Privy Council is a pool of UK and Commonwealth statesmen, judges and others who are admitted to the councils of the sovereign.

In practice the council, which advises the Queen and transacts some official business, comprises a handful of current UK Cabinet ministers, with the Sovereign, or a representative, and the leader of the Commons always present.

Diana, Princess of Wales, 1961-1997

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