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Tuesday, April 14, 1998 Published at 14:53 GMT 15:53 UK



UK: Politics

Ecclestone may give evidence to inquiry
image: [ Bernie Ecclestone: controversy over £1m donation to the Labour Party ]
Bernie Ecclestone: controversy over £1m donation to the Labour Party

The Formula One motor racing chief, Bernie Ecclestone, says he is still considering whether to give evidence to the inquiry into party political funding.

He said a newspaper report stating that he was refusing to face questioning by Lord Neill's Committee on Standards in Public Life was incorrect.

Mr Ecclestone has been invited to appear before the committee to answer questions over whether he expected anything in return for a £1m gift to the Labour Party.

The Times newspaper reported on Tuesday that Mr Ecclestone had disappointed Lord Neill QC and his committee by declining their invitation.

Mr Ecclestone issued a statement in response to the article, saying: "The report in today's Times is incorrect. I am still considering whether to accept an invitation to give evidence to Lord Neill's Committee on Standards in Public Life."


[ image: Lord Neill recommended the money be returned]
Lord Neill recommended the money be returned
A spokesman for the Neill inquiry said: "He had indicated to us verbally, about a week or so ago, that it was 'thanks, but no thanks'. But if he would like to come, we will find some time for him."

Mr Ecclestone's gift proved an embarrassment for Prime Minister Tony Blair, who faced allegations that it had influenced the government's decision to seek an exemption for Formula One from a European tobacco advertising ban.

The Labour Party followed Lord Neill's advice and returned the money.

The inquiry begins on Wednesday.






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