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Monday, 29 January, 2001, 13:20 GMT
Key players in the passports row
BBC News Online takes a look at the main players in the cash-for-passports row which led to the resignation of Peter Mandelson.

Peter Mandelson

The grandson of Herbert Morrison, a Labour cabinet minister, Peter Mandelson is widely seen as one of the main architects of 'New Labour' and helped to mastermind the party's landslide 1997 election victory.

Peter Mandelson MP
Peter Mandelson MP
Originally appointed Minister Without Portfolio, he was made responsible for the Dome and first met the Hinduja brothers, who had offered 1m to sponsor the Faith Zone.

In 1998, Mr Mandelson was forced to resign from the government as Trade and Industry Secretary, over his controversial home loan from then Paymaster General, Geoffrey Robinson.

After a ten-month period out of government, Tony Blair brought him back in as Northern Ireland Secretary.

He resigned last week for misleading colleagues over a phone call made to Home Office minister Mike O'Brien regarding Srichand Hinduja's passport application, although he now denies making the call.

Alastair Campbell

The prime minister's official spokesman, Alastair Campbell is renowned for his hard-nosed dealings with the press and for his ruthless treatment of anyone who threatens the ideals of New Labour.

Alastair Campbell
Alastair Campbell
He protects the prime minister, provides the context of most press coverage of the government, deflects criticism and shapes the "message".

Together - until recently - with Peter Mandelson, he is the prime minister's oldest and closest adviser. Some go so far as to argue that he is the real deputy prime minister.

Mr Campbell is thought to have played a large part in ordering Mr Mandelson's dismissal, after the minister caused him to mislead journalists and the prime minister on the Hinduja affair.

Keith Vaz

Minister for Europe, the former barrister was elected as MP for Leicester East in 1987, and is known as an ambitious, hardworking MP who has also courted controversy in his time.

Keith Vaz MP
Keith Vaz MP
First appointed to Labour's frontbench in 1992 as a junior environment spokesman, he became the first Asian minister in the Commons in 1999 when Tony Blair appointed him Minister for Europe.

A strong pro-European, he has been vocal against Eurosceptic claims from the opposition and media, and has spoken out over issues like racism and immigration.

He is accused of making inappropriate representations on Mr Hinduja's behalf, but denies any wrongdoing.

Hinduja brothers

Described as one of the world's most influential families, the four brothers jointly control a globe-spanning empire with interests in finance, telecommunications, film and oil businesses worth an estimated $8bn.

(l-r) Gopichand, Prakash and Srichand Hinduja
(l-r) Gopichand, Prakash and Srichand Hinduja
London-based Srichand - at the centre of the passport row - and Gopichand, are estimated to be among the top 10 richest people in Britain and are renowned for their support of both main political parties, and for their charitable works.

Three of the brothers - Srichand, Prakash and Gopichand -are being investigated in India over claims of criminal conspiracy and bribery in connection with the purchase of artillery guns from the Swedish Bofors company in 1986.

Sir Anthony Hammond QC

The former Treasury solicitor has been charged by the prime minister with leading the inquiry into the passports-for-cash row.

Sir Anthony Hammond QC
Sir Anthony Hammond QC
As part of the probe, Sir Anthony is expected to interview ministers and officials in the Home Office in order to see how Mr Hinduja's passport application was handled.

He is expected to report back to Mr Blair by the end of February and his findings will then be published.

He was appointed Treasury Solicitor in March 1997, and was granted the Order of the Bath in 1999's New Years' Honours list.

Norman Baker

This Liberal Democrat MP first raised the questions in Parliament that led to the passport-for-cash row emerging.

Norman Baker MP
Norman Baker MP
On 19 January he passed a Commons written answer to The Observer newspaper which states that Peter Mandelson "made inquiries" about how a passport application by Srichand Hinduja might be viewed.

Mr Baker, MP for Lewes, said of Mandelson's resignation: "It was inevitable that this would happen when he had exposed the prime minister and his colleagues in a very unhelpful way."

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See also:

24 Jan 01 | UK Politics
Mandelson: The controversial minister
13 Jul 00 | UK Politics
Viewing his master's voice
24 Jan 01 | UK Politics
Hinduja brothers: Wealthy and reclusive
26 Jan 01 | UK Politics
Keith Vaz: Minister and networker
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