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It's a small world... allegedly

NEWS STORY
02/03/2006

In Britain, the Labour party has been involved in more than its fair share of scandals since it came to power.

Just weeks after winning the 1997 election, the party was embroiled in a scandal involving F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone, who donated 1m to the political party's campaign fund.

It was claimed that the money, given by Ecclestone before the election, was in fact a bribe in an attempt to have Formula One exempted from the (then) forthcoming advertising ban.

Despite denials by Ecclestone, Tony Blair, Max Mosley and (Chancellor) Gordon Brown, the ensuing furore resulted in the political party returning the money to the F1 supremo. Though it took its time in handing it back.

It was an affair that badly damage the new inhabitant at 10 Downing Street, and a 'scandal' that has never been forgotten.

In recent days, another 'scandal' has hogged the headlines.

David Mills, husband of Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell, is alleged to have received a payment of around 350,000 from a mystery Italian - possibly Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, possibly not - and then moved the money around - as one does - eventually using it to pay off a mortgage, which had only been taken out a month earlier.

Because Ms Jowell co-signed the mortgage, it was alleged that she therefore knew of the payment, and its origins, and therefore, having failed to declare the payment, had broken the ministerial code.

The possible ramifications could have been very damaging for everyone concerned, for in addition to being a leading light in Blair's cabinet, Ms Jowell is a close personal friend of the Prime Minister and his wife.

Then again, it wasn't that long ago (2004) that we witnessed the Blairs enjoying 5-star hospitality, courtesy of Sr Berlusconi, at his 27-bedroom Sardinian villa. Who will ever forget the site of Tony and Cherie walking hand-in-hand with the bandana wearing Italian, proudly sporting his new face-lift?

It's worth noting that Mr David Mills is a tax lawyer, indeed in 1997 he was tax consultant to a certain Bernard Charles Ecclestone...

It's a small world... allegedly.

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