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Last Updated: Sunday, 19 February 2006, 02:09 GMT
Minister's husband denies bribe
Silvio Berlusconi
Silvio Berlusconi could face trial over the allegations
The husband of Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell has denied taking a 344,000 bribe from Italy's Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

Italian officials say corporate lawyer David Mills, 60, was paid to give false testimony in court for Mr Berlusconi.

Mr Mills admits writing a letter to his accountants where he appears to be describing the bribe, but claims he was inventing a scenario to get tax advice.

Both Mr Mills and Mr Berlusconi could now face a corruption trial in Italy.

The lawyer said he was "completely mortified" but still believed he would not be brought to trial.

He told the Press Association news agency he had been made to look "like a complete fool".

Tessa Jowell
Tessa Jowell has not commented publicly on the situation

"I'm entirely the author of my own misfortune. I put my hand up to being a complete idiot. The whole thing has rebounded in the worst possible way.

"But at the end of the day the issue is did Berlusconi bribe me or not and he most emphatically did not."

Mr Mills, who was an adviser to Mr Berlusconi, said: "I have now provided incontrovertible evidence of where I got this money from and it wasn't from Berlusconi."

He admitted that his explanation of the letter to his accountants sounded "completely ridiculous", adding: "It's excruciating - you couldn't make it up."

But he insisted he was "completely serene" about the outcome.

The culture department said the affair would not affect Miss Jowell's work, a spokesman saying it was a "private matter".




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