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The BBC's John Thorne in Hartlepool
"The MP was beginning a weekend of constituency events"
 real 56k

Thursday, 8 February, 2001, 20:07 GMT
Mandelson in 'pushing' incident
Peter Mandelson in Hartlepool
Peter Mandelson was attending a church service
The former Northern Ireland Secretary, Peter Mandelson has been involved in an incident with a cameraman working for the BBC.

Mr Mandelson was walking through a group of cameramen, reporters and photographers as he entered a church in his Hartlepool constituency.

I didn't have time to get out of the way

Peter Thompson
Video shows him walking right into cameraman Peter Thompson, 33.

Mr Thompson was forced backwards over a low wall, falling into a graveyard. He was not hurt.

Mr Mandelson remained stony-faced and silent as he arrived at St Hilda's Church in his Hartlepool constituency for a commemorative service with clergymen and parishioners.

Mr Mandelson suddenly stopped and stared straight ahead before resuming the short walk to the church entrance.

Silent on rumours

He remained silent when asked about rumours that he was set to resign as Hartlepool's MP tomorrow.

When his party entered the church two of his protection team came out to ask if the cameraman was OK.

They maintained they had been blinded by the camera lights and had had difficulty in following the path when the incident happened.

But Mr Thompson maintained that he had been pushed by the Hartlepool MP as he tried to film him.

"I didn't have time to get out of the way. I was shocked when he pushed me over."

Mr Mandelson left the hour-long service without comment.

He was treated to a firework display in the grounds of St Hilda's Church where he stood talking to local residents for about 20 minutes before leaving.

Media blamed

Mr Mandelson blamed the media for the incident and saying they showed a lack of respect in the church grounds.

A spokesman for Mr Mandelson said: "We all sympathise with the media's need for news pictures but to behave like that in the grounds of a church is not right.

"They were blocking the way, tripping over each other and finally, one of them fell over a gravestone.

"The media is making a story about itself but in church they should show more respect.

"Having said that, I hope that the cameraman who fell over is not hurt."

Mr Mandelson will be in his constituency on Friday - the first time since he resigned from the cabinet last month.

He is due to carry out a number of local ceremonial duties in the morning and hold a surgery with constituents in the evening.

Last week's surgery was cancelled as Mr Mandelson left the country for a holiday in the immediate aftermath of newspaper reports concerning his resignation.

Mr Mandelson resigned from the government amid accusations that he lied when asked if had telephoned a Home Office minister about a passport application by one of the Hinduja brothers.

He has since declared that he will fight to clear his name and rescue his career.

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See also:

05 Feb 01 | UK Politics
Mandelson returns for fightback
02 Feb 01 | UK Politics
Scargill to stand against Mandelson
04 Feb 01 | UK Politics
Mandelson 'not seeking revenge'
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