LONDON (AP) _ Police charged a former Cabinet minister with perjury and obstruction of justice Thursday in connection with his failed libel suit against two news organizations.

Jonathan Aitken, 55, who oversaw arms-buying for the former Conservative government, posted bail and was ordered to appear in court July 6.

Also charged with obstruction of justice was Said Ayas, an aide to the Saudi royal family. He also was ordered to appear in court July 6.

Aitken resigned as chief secretary to the Treasury in April 1995 to devote himself to suing The Guardian and Granada TV over reports alleging that a 1993 stay at the Hotel Ritz in Paris was paid for by a Saudi businessman _ a breach of ethics for a government minister.

The news reports also alleged Aitken had undeclared links to Saudi arms dealers. At the time of his visit to Paris, he was serving as Britain's defense minister.

Aitken's case rested on his claim that his wife, Lolicia, flew to Paris from Switzerland, where she had taken their daughter to school, and paid the Ritz bill in cash after he left.

However, the newspaper's lawyer produced airline and car rental records showing Mrs. Aitken never went to Paris. Aitken dropped the suit, announced his marriage was over and temporarily fled abroad.

The case was among a clutch of scandals that dogged the Conservative government and contributed to its massive election defeat by the Labor Party in May 1997.

The Daily Telegraph reported Thursday that Aitken is expected to claim that he first lied for national security reasons to prevent disclosure of his role as a secret government intermediary passing British intelligence about Iran to Saudi Arabia.