Page last updated at 14:40 GMT, Tuesday, 17 February 2009

A New Labour 'golden couple'

Tessa Jowell and David Mills
The couple met while councillors in Camden, north London

Tessa Jowell and David Mills were often portrayed as the epitome of a successful New Labour couple.

A high-flying minister and a wealthy international lawyer, they shared successful careers and contacts at the highest levels, both in politics and business.

But following weeks of unwelcome media interest in Mr Mills' business links to Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi in 2006, the couple separated.

Now Mr Mills has been found guilty of accepting $600,000 (422,000) to give false testimony in two court cases involving Mr Berlusconi dating back to the late 1990s.

Mr Mills - who denies the allegations - has been sentenced to four-and-a-half years in prison.

Stark contrast

His current difficulties are in stark contrast to what went before.

Mr Mills was running a highly profitable business, whose clients included Mr Berlusconi's Fininvest company, when Ms Jowell, then a social worker, became a Labour MP in 1992.

Mr Mills - described by acquaintances as "exceptionally clever" - is accomplished in several areas outside law.

He is a well-regarded cook, an expert on art, a clarinettist who plays in various amateur orchestras and can speak four languages.

He is also the brother-in-law of Dame Barbara Mills, the former Director of Public Prosecutions.

Soon after graduating from Oxford, he became a Labour councillor in Camden.

It was here that he met fellow councillor Ms Jowell, a trained social worker who was then assistant director of the charity Mind.

They were both already married, but a relationship developed and they married in 1979.

Before their wedding, Mr Mills - a barrister - retrained as a solicitor to pursue a career in international commercial law.

He set up his own company, Mackenzie Mills, and took on work with a leading Italian law firm.

Olympic focus

The couple, who own houses in Kentish Town in north London and in Warwickshire, have a son and daughter together.

As MP for the south London constituency of Dulwich - and later Dulwich and West Norwood - Ms Jowell rose swiftly through the Labour ranks, becoming a close ally of Tony Blair.

She was appointed public health minister after the 1997 election, was promoted to employment minister and minister for women in 1999, later joining the cabinet as Culture Secretary in 2001.

In that role, she faced political controversy over casinos and pub licensing hours but scored a massive triumph as a key figure in clinching the 2012 Olympics for London.

Seen as a close ally of Tony Blair, she lost her job as culture secretary in Gordon Brown's first reshuffle in 2007 and her political profile has dropped slightly since then.

But she retains responsibility for the Olympics, attending cabinet meetings when the controversial issues of the 2012 budget and its hoped-for legacy are discussed.

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