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Wednesday, 24 January, 2001, 13:59 GMT
Passport row: Who said what
Peter Mandelson
Peter Mandelson resigned on Wednesday lunchtime
A political row would not be complete without debate over who said what and when they said it.

Here is BBC News Online's guide to the crucial statements made in the passport row leading up to Peter Mandelson's resignation.

Saturday 20 January

Claims first surface that Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Mandelson may have been involved in helping controversial Indian tycoon Srichand Hinduja secure British citizenship.

Mr Mandelson insists in a statement: "To the limited extent that I was involved in this matter I was always very sensitive to the proprieties.

"The matter was dealt with by my private secretary. At no time did I support or endorse this application for citizenship."

Sunday 21 January

As the first newspaper article is published a spokesman for the Northern Ireland Office says: "If you ignore the headline of this story and read the facts, Mr Mandelson did not assist in this passport application.


Peter did not get involved - beyond being asked to get involved, which he did not

Prime minister's spokesman
Monday 22 January
"He did not support or endorse any passport application, nor would he have considered doing so."

The same day a spokesman for Srichand Hinduja says: "In the summer of 1998 Mr Hinduja asked Mr Mandelson informally if an application by him to the Home Office for British nationality would be considered.

"Mr Mandelson kindly came back to Mr Hinduja and confirmed that he was eligible to apply, and that a formal application would be considered by the Home Office in the normal manner.

"Mr Mandelson had absolutely no further involvement with the application and its consideration."

Monday 22 January

As most of Fleet Street pick up the story, the prime minister's official spokesman is asked about it at the daily morning lobby briefing for political journalists.

The spokesman says: "This was an issue raised by the Hindujas and it was passed to the Home Office and when specifically they asked Peter to endorse or support any application he refused, perfectly properly and appropriately.

"He did exactly what any other minister would do, which is pass it to the relevant department, which is the Home Office.


Yesterday with offices back up and running, Peter's office was able to look at it in further detail and was able to recollect that he had a call with Home Office minister Mike O'Brien in June 1998

Prime minister's spokesman
Tuesday 23 January
"Peter did not get involved - beyond being asked to get involved, which he did not."

Later in the day Culture Secretary Chris Smith is challenged over the issue in the House of Commons.

He tells MPs: "I understand that Mr Hinduja's passport application was dealt with in the normal way by the normal people and under the normal terms.

Mr Mandelson's then private secretary told Mr Hinduja that would be the case.

"That was the sole involvement that he had. He had no involvement in endorsing or supporting the application at any stage."

Tuesday 23 January

Speaking at the morning lobby briefing, the prime minister's official spokesman says: "Yesterday I repeated a line from Sunday that Peter's sole involvement was a call from his private secretary to the Home Office, which was Peter's recollection.

"But yesterday with offices back up and running, Peter's office was able to look at it in further detail and was able to recollect that he had a call with Home Office minister Mike O'Brien in June 1998.


That is the beginning and end of this story. The rest is innuendo

Peter Mandelson
Tuesday 23 January
"The fact of the conversation was noted by an official. Mike O'Brien's recollection is that it lasted no more than two minutes.

"Mike O'Brien has confirmed that Peter Mandelson did not make representations on behalf of the brothers or make representations on any potential application and did not support or endorse it. The end result is precisely the same."

Mr Mandelson says: "There was no passport application, no discussion between me and the Home Office of the merits of giving a passport, no support or endorsement by me of any future passport application.

"An innocent inquiry was made in a two-minute phone conversation, facilitated by civil servants and monitored by them.

"That is the beginning and end of this story. The rest is innuendo."

Wednesday 24 January

Speaking after Mr Mandelson was summoned to a morning meeting at Downing Street, Mr Blair's spokesman Alastair Campbell said: "The prime minister has got to face the House of Commons this afternoon and there are a number of areas of fact he feels the need to pin down."

Just after 1330GMT, Mr Mandelson announced his resignation from the government.


Wrong information was given to the House by the culture secretary and by the prime minister's spokesman to the press; I accept responsibility for that

Peter Mandelson Wednesday 24 January
In a statement read to reporters outside No 10 Mr Mandelson said: "I do not accept in any way that I have acted improperly in respect of any application for naturalisation as a British citizen.

"I do accept that when my office spoke to a Sunday newspaper at the weekend, I should have been clear that it was me personally, not my officials who spoke to a Home Office minister."

"As a result of that, wrong information was given to the House by the culture secretary and by the prime minister's spokesman to the press. I accept responsibility for that."

But he added that "constant media pressure" was also a factor in his decision.

"I want to remove myself from the countless stories of controversy, feuds and division and all the rest.

"I want in other words to lead a more normal life, both in politics and, in the future, outside," he said.

Peter Mandelson is at the centre of a row over passport applications

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