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The BBC's Nick Jones
"Mr Brown said he bought it openly and at market price"
 real 28k

Carolyn Quinn reports for BBC News
"The Chancellor bought the flat in Westminster in 1992"
 real 28k

Sunday, 9 January, 2000, 01:52 GMT
Brown denies impropriety in flat purchase

Gordon Brown flatly denies any impropriety

Chancellor Gordon Brown has strongly denied any impropriety over the purchase of a London flat from a failed company owned by the late Robert Maxwell.

Conservatives are calling for an independent inquiry into links between government ministers and Robert Maxwell following a report in the Sunday Times newspaper relating to the 1992 sale of an apartment by the administrators of polling firm AGB research.

The company had previously included former Paymaster General Geoffrey Robinson among its directors.

David Heathcoat Amory: Inquiry call
Mr Brown's spokesman said the purchase of the flat, in Great Smith Street, near Westminster Abbey, was entirely above board, and rejected claims in the paper that the property had been sold at a discount.

But shadow treasury chief secretary David Heathcoat-Amory attacked the sale, saying "a full, independent and public inquiry" should be called into the relationship between Robert Maxwell and present-day Labour ministers.

The Chancellor still owns the flat - now thought to be worth about 300,000 - and uses it when he does not stay at his government flat in nearby No 10 Downing Street.

A spokesman for Mr Brown said: "The flat was bought in 1992 in the usual way, on the open market, through an estate agent and then solicitors and a building society mortgage.

Robert Maxwell: Disgraced businessman
"The price paid was the market price. Mr Brown had no contact at all with the vendors.

"Mr Brown had no discussion or communication with Geoffrey Robinson MP over the flat's purchase or its financing.

"Any suggestion of any impropriety in the purchase of the flat is entirely without foundation."

Experts said properties bought from administrators of failed companies or as a result of repossessions often sell below the full price.

Robert Maxwell's business empire collapsed after his death in 1991, leaving its pension funds 400m in deficit.

It later emerged that pension funds intended for former staff had been invested in other Maxwell companies to try to prop up their share price.

Mr Robinson's home loan to Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Mandelson led to both men stepping down from their ministerial posts.

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21 Dec 99 |  UK Politics
Robinson cleared by trade inquiry
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