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Thursday, 8 March, 2001, 17:34 GMT
Timeline: Passport row
Gopichand and Srichand Hinduja
The Hinduja brothers are at the centre of the saga
The Hinduja passport application affair has embroiled both former Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Mandelson and Europe Minister Keith Vaz.


Background

1990: Srichand and Gopichand Hinduja apply for UK passports but are refused.

February 1997: The Hinduja brothers express an interest in contributing towards the costs of the Millennium Dome.

March 1997: Gopichand Hinduja reapplies for a UK passport.

May 1997: Peter Mandelson is given responsibility for the Dome.

November 1997: Gopichand is granted a UK passport.

February 1998: Srichand Hinduja applies for British passport.

The Hinduja Foundation - set up by the multi-millionaire Hinduja brothers - makes a verbal offer to underwrite the Faith Zone in the Millennium Dome by 1m.

June 1998: A second offer on underwriting the Faith Zone is made by the Foundation.

Srichand Hinduja
Mr Hinduja became a UK citizen in 1999
According to Home Office Minister Mike O'Brien Mr Mandelson has a two-minute telephone conversation with him about whether a passport application from Srichand Hinduja would be reconsidered following a change in government policy.

October 1998: Mr Hinduja makes a second application for a British passport.

March 1999: Srichand Hinduja receives his passport.

June 1999: Final donors to the Faith Zone are announced - 2m from the Laing family trusts, 1m from the Hinduja Foundation, 1m from other Christian trusts.

May 2000: Gopichand Hinduja writes to Mr Mandelson with an inquiry about a possible passport application from a third brother, Prakash, which Mr Mandelson again passes to the Home Office without endorsement.


Mandelson resigns

19 January 2001: The Hinduja brothers appear in court in India in connection with an arms scandal dating back to 1986.

The brothers are accused of criminal conspiracy and bribery in connection with the purchase of field guns by India from the Swedish company Bofors. They are bailed.

The Liberal Democrat MP Norman Baker passes a Commons written answer to The Observer newspaper which states that Peter Mandelson "made inquiries" about how a passport application by Srichand might be viewed.

20 January 2001: In response to enquiries from The Observer Mr Mandelson says: "This matter was dealt with by my private secretary ... I did not support or endorse this application for citizenship."

Sunday 21 January: The Observer publishes its story. As pressure mounts on Mr Mandelson, the Northern Ireland Office defends its leader saying he would never have considered supporting the application.

A spokesman for Srichand Hinduja says Mr Hinduja made an informal inquiry about a passport to the Northern Ireland secretary in the summer of 1998.

All Mr Mandelson said was that he was eligible to apply, and that a formal application would be considered by the Home Office in the normal manner, the spokesman said.

Peter Mandelson
Mr Mandelson insisted he did not lie
22 January 2001: The prime minister's spokesman Alastair Campbell says Mr Mandelson was asked by the Hindujas to endorse the application but refused and "perfectly properly" passed it to the Home Office via his private secretary. Nothing is said about his personal call to Mike O'Brien.

23 January 2001: Mr Mandelson remembers the Mike O'Brien call and reveals it was noted by officials. He says it was an innocent inquiry and that he did not endorse the application.

Mr Campbell tells reporters that Mr Mandelson phoned Mr O'Brien to inquire if Srichand's passport application would be re-considered.

Mr Campbell concedes he had made statements on the issue to reporters which were "plainly not true", and all but publicly accuses Mr Mandelson of misleading him.

24 January 2001: Speculation grows that Mr Mandelson will resign as he is summoned to a morning meeting at Downing Street to help the prime minister "pin down" a "number of areas of fact".

1330 GMT: Mr Mandelson emerges from Downing Street to announce that he is resigning from the government.

The prime minister announces an inquiry into the events surrounding the passport applications. It is to be carried out by Treasury solicitor Sir Anthony Hammond QC.


Keith Vaz under pressure

25 January 2001: Attention begins to focus on Minister for Europe Keith Vaz, who was also referred to in the original parliamentary question tabled by Liberal Democrat MP Norman Baker.

Mr Vaz wrote to both the prime minister and Mr Mandelson about the Hinduja brothers in 1997. He refuses to divulge any details of his correspondence with government departments.

26 January 2001: Mr Vaz changes tack. "I'm very happy to have all my correspondence published," he says. He also tells journalists to "wait and see" what the Hammond inquiry reveals.

Prime Minister Tony Blair backs Mr Vaz saying he does not believe his colleague had done anything wrong.


Mandelson fights back

28 January 2001: Mr Mandelson writes in the Sunday Times that he was rushed into resigning and pledges to fight to clear his name.

31 January: Mr Mandelson hires a team of top city lawyers to represent him in Sir Anthony Hammond's inquiry.

2 February: Miners' leader Arthur Scargill vows to stand against Mr Mandelson in the general election.

Sir Anthony Hammond
Sir Anthony took six weeks to carry out his inquiry
4 February: Mr Mandelson tells newspapers he is not trying to damage the Labour Party by speaking out.

8 February: Mr Mandelson is accused of "pushing" a TV cameraman outside a church in Hartlepool.

He visits two national newspapers and briefs editors on why he believes he will be vindicated by the inquiry.

9 February: Newspapers report that Mr Mandelson is touting for a job as an EU commissioner.

He denies the reports and tells BBC Radio Cleveland that the events surrounding his resignation were like "a ghastly road accident".

11 February: Sinn Fein accuses Mr Mandelson of being "completely out of his depth" as Northern Ireland secretary.

13 February: Mr Mandelson gives evidence to Sir Anthony Hammond's inquiry.

19 February: Mr Mandelson donates his earnings from newspaper articles since his resignation, totalling 10,000, to the Omagh Victim's Legal Trust.

25 February: Mr Mandelson tells his local party organisation he will not return to frontline politics and wants to be "a good constituency MP".

28 February: In the first Northern Ireland questions since his resignation, Mr Mandelson asks his successor Dr John Reid to ensure the Omagh bombers are brought to justice.

9 March: Hammond report published.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Peter Mandelson MP, Northern Ireland Secretary
"Home Office ministers receive enquiries from MPs all the time"
The BBC's Nicholas Jones
"You can see how difficult this is for the government to explain"
Norman Baker, Liberal Democrat MP
"It is quite clear, I was misled"

Key stories

Background

Analysis

IN DEPTH

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