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Hindujas speak out

This week, the Hammond Inquiry will reveal whether Peter Mandelson abused his ministerial office. In an exclusive interview with Panorama, the Hinduja brothers speak about their role in the passport scandal.

The Hinduja brothers gave a million pounds to the Dome. Soon after, SP Hinduja applied for a British passport and received it in record time.

But the Hindujas insist there is no link between the two. GP Hinduja says, "There could have been coincidence of the chronology of the dates but that doesn't mean that the donation bears any relation to the passport."

The philosophy of the group is we never link any deals with the politicians

SP Hinduja
Liberal Democrat MP Norman Baker believes there is a case to answer. He tells reporter Jane Corbin, "The chronology as such at the very least leaves one to suppose that there is a link there."

However SP Hinduja refutes such suggestions. He says "There was no deal, there was no condition, there was no link with the contribution or any other contribution. The philosophy of the group is we never link any deals with the politicians."

He adds, "the tradition of India and particularly the Hinduja family, would never, never, never, link their business with a donation, and it is considered to be a sin if one penny of donation is linked with the benefit of the family."

Passport Inquiries

SP Hinduja and Peter Mandelson
SP Hinduja wanted to discuss his passport application with Mandelson
On June 10 1998 Peter Mandelson met SP Hinduja to talk about the brothers' contribution to the Dome. But SP wanted to discuss his re-application for a British passport, and put this on the agenda.

Panorama has established that Peter Mandelson's office acted as a conduit for SP Hinduja's passport queries with the Home Office. Former Home Office Minister Charles Wardle says, "the idea they (the Hindujas) needed to understand how an application went in, which is what I think Peter Mandelson was conveying seems to be nonsense."

Keith Vaz, a friend of the Hindujas, made inquiries to the Home Office on their behalf. SP says, "He's an Asian, he has been helpful. He offers his services voluntarily and that is what is the duty of a politician."

GP adds, "He hasn't done anything. Maybe in our general discussion we may have asked general queries and he may have tried to have refer to the department and find out. We don't know what he has done but at least he has not got me the passport."

Arms Scandal

Bofors gun
A Bofors gun: at the centre of the arms scandal
The brothers are now in India to answer questions about the arms scandal. There is concern that their passports will put them beyond the reach of the law if they are allowed to return to Britain.

GP Hinduja says, "The British passport cannot protect us in any manner, and we have not taken any refuge or hidden behind the British citizenship. We have come voluntarily of our own and not even the summons was served on us."

SP Hinduja says, "Since the day I have taken the passport I don't think I have yet taken the privilege of investment or taken any protection... I haven't taken any shelter, I haven't taken any benefit."

He adds, "I have come to India voluntarily and I have clearly surrendered myself without taking the shelter of the British passport which has a privilege of all kind of protection and securities."

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