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Last Updated: Monday, 22 May 2006, 12:16 GMT 13:16 UK
Jowell home on sale for 950,000
By Ben Davies
BBC News political reporter

Tessa Jowell's house
Where the house is described as 'elegant'
The north London home Tessa Jowell used to share with husband David Mills has gone on the market for 950,000.

The culture secretary split up with Mr Mills amid allegations he took a 344,000 bribe from Silvio Berlusconi. The City lawyer denies the claims.

It is claimed there is a link between a loan application Ms Jowell signed on the house and the alleged bribe.

But she has denied any wrongdoing and was cleared of breaching the ministers' code of conduct.

Italian prosecutors have been examining claims the 344,000 was paid to Mr Mills, an international lawyer, in return for helpful testimony in a corruption probe concerning the Italian prime minister in 1997.

Ms Jowell co-signed a mortgage on what was then described as a 700,000 home in Kentish Town.

"I agreed that we would take out a loan on our house. That is not unusual, it's not improper, and it's certainly not illegal," she said.

John Morris, of estate agents Day Morris, told the BBC News website that Mrs Jowell's home had been seen by a number of people and was of particular interest to three possible purchasers who were "considering it".

He said: "It is very elegantly decorated and modernised with very good quality fittings. It is very tastefully done."

According to Land Registry figures another house on the street sold in September last year for 695,000.

'Long and happy'

The culture secretary's split with Mr Mills, at the beginning of March, was described as temporary, sparking speculation it had been contrived for political reasons.

But Mr Mills told the Times: "The idea that people could decide on a separation for contrived reasons - it's just not how human beings behave."

He said they had a "long and happy" marriage behind them and he hoped there would eventually be a reconciliation.

Mr Mills has been apparently living at the family's country home in Warwickshire since he moved from Kentish Town.

In April he told the magazine Legal Business his family had been through the "most ghastly trauma". He added that he hoped that "with peace and privacy, and time, things will return to normal".

'Unfair'

In a statement responding to speculation about her family's financial affairs, Ms Jowell said: "I signed a charge over our jointly-owned home to support a loan made to my husband alone by his bank.

"I am satisfied that no conflict of interest arose out of this transaction in relation to my ministerial duties.

"As is standard practice in relation to legal proceedings, it would be inappropriate for me to comment further."

In a letter to The Independent newspaper on 11 April, Mr Mills wrote: "The truth, as the relevant documents plainly show ... is that all she did was sign a charge over our jointly owned house (which at that time had no mortgage on it) by way of guarantee for a personal loan made to me by my bank.

"I used the loan to buy some shares, which themselves provided collateral for the loan.

"The charge on the house was to provide further security if needed, but it never was, so no actual liability [was] ever attached to the house.

"I decided to repay the loan after I had sold another investment, which is the one falsely alleged to have been transferred to me on Mr Berlusconi's orders.

"There was, accordingly, no "mortgage deal" required to bring the funds into the UK, they arrived in the ordinary way by credit to my account, and that would have been so with or without the charge on the house.

"I hope that the persistent and inaccurate description of the transaction will no longer be repeated, because it is most unfair to Tessa Jowell."


SEE ALSO:
Jowell facing conduct questions
26 Feb 06 |  UK Politics
Jowell split 'was not political'
05 Mar 06 |  UK Politics
Q&A: Jowell and ministers' code
04 Mar 06 |  UK Politics



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