London: Starr Speaks

Kenneth Starr insisted on Tuesday he had no vendetta against President Clinton. But the independent counsel, in London to deliver a speech on ethics, did regret the impression that his investigation was personally motivated.

CBS News Correspondent Richard Roth reports that Starr said his five-year $40 million investigation of the president was an unfortunate ordeal for America -- but necessary.

But Starr told BBC radio Tuesday morning he does have one regret.

Â"I regret the impression that there was anything other than a professional law enforcement, investigative and prosecutorial activity underway as opposed to a clash of personalities which there was not from my perspective,Â" Starr said.

Starr would not be drawn out, however, about the president's wife.

Â"As far as Hillary Clinton is concerned, she now wants to become a senator for New York state. Is she fit to do that job in your view?Â" asked a reporter.

Â"I just don't think I should comment especially as there are two areas of our investigation that remain underway,Â" Starr answered. Â"I think it is imprudent to comment.Â"

But Starr may have gone further in a British newspaper interview, in which he reportedly said that he and the first lady have met three times. As to whether Mrs. Clinton was fir for office, the independent counsel reportedly told the Daily Telegraph, Â"No comment.Â"

As a result of StarrÂ's exhaustive probe, Mr. Clinton was impeached by the House of Representatives for lying about the Lewinsky affair, but the Senate voted against removing him from office.

StarrÂ's probe began with an Arkansas land deal and then mushroomed into an investigation of the president's love life.

Clinton's affair with Lewinsky, an intern working at the White House, shocked the United States -- and Starr's report provided graphic detail of just what went on and where.

Â"It was a very wretched background and setting,Â" Starr told the BBC of the affair, much of which was conducted clandestinely inside White House offices.

He conceded it would have been better for another prosecutor to probe the Lewinsky scandal since his continued pursuit of presidential wrongdoing ended up looking like a vendetta.

Â"In retrospect it would have been a better thing for the matter to be investigated by someone else,Â" he told the radio.

But Starr, who plans to discuss Â"the culture of scandalÂ" in his speech, insisted he bore no ill will towards Clinton.

Â"We want our president to succeed. We want the president to do very well. We want the president to conduct himself honorably. However if information comes to us that has to be examined, one should not turn away from one's duty,Â" he said.

©1999 CBS Worldwide Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Reuters contributed to this report