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EDITIONS
Thursday, 8 March, 2001, 15:45 GMT
Blair receives Hammond report
Peter Mandelson
Mr Mandelson resigned from the cabinet in January
Prime Minister Tony Blair has officially received a copy of the report into the events that led to the resignation of Peter Mandelson from the cabinet.

The report will be published early on Friday.

Mr Blair asked Sir Anthony Hammond QC to carry out an inquiry into the affair on 24 January - the day Mr Mandelson resigned as Northern Ireland secretary.


The prime minister received the report this morning

Mr Blair's spokesman
Media leaks have suggested that the report "clears" Mr Mandelson with Sir Anthony reportedly finding no evidence of wrongdoing.

Mr Mandelson resigned after apparent discrepancies emerged over his alleged role in the granting of a British passport to the Millennium Dome benefactor, Srichand Hinduja.

A spokesman for Mr Blair said: "The prime minister received the report this morning and it will be published tomorrow [Friday]."

Blair in talks

Asked if Mr Blair had read the report yet, the spokesman replied: "I wouldn't have thought so because he has been engaged in the [Northern Ireland] talks all morning."

Mr Blair travelled to Belfast on Thursday morning to hold talks with party leaders in an attempt to secure a breakthrough in the stalled peace process.

Sir Anthony Hammond
Sir Anthony was asked to carry out an inquiry by Mr Blair
The report is also believed to exonerate Europe Minister Keith Vaz - who was also under investigation for his links to the Hinduja brothers.

The BBC saw key extracts from Sir Anthony's report earlier this week.

The extracts suggest the enforced resignation of one of the prime minister's closest political colleagues was premature and paints a picture of Whitehall confusion, blurred memories, and bad note-keeping.

Mr Mandelson met Sir Anthony on 13 February to give his side of the story and has consistently pledged to clear his name.

In a statement, Sir Anthony said: "I have this morning presented my report to the prime minister.

"There is nothing further I have to add to the content of my report and no comment I wish to make about it."

Commons concern

In the Commons, Tory MP Eric Forth called for the report to be presented to parliament so MPs can "ask questions" about the affair and the role of "the shadowy figure" of Alastair Campbell, the prime minister's official spokesman.

He also criticised leaks giving details of Sir Anthony's report.

But Commons leader Margaret Beckett replied that she knew nothing about the leaks.

"You keep saying 'what about these leaks?'. Very good question. Don't ask me, it's nothing to do with me, or indeed it's very much not me, guv."

BBC News Online's special report on the passport for favours affair

Key stories

Inquiry report

Analysis

The players

VIDEO
See also:

08 Mar 01 | UK Politics
07 Mar 01 | UK Politics
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