Page last updated at 16:32 GMT, Tuesday, 21 October 2008 17:32 UK

Full text: Letter and Tory rebuttal

Here is the letter sent by financier Nathaniel Rothschild to The Times, followed by George Osborne's denial in full:


Sir, Since your paper - along with your sister publication The Sunday Times - has made much out of what may or may not have happened at a private gathering of my friends this summer in Corfu, I thought I should make the following observations. I am surprised that you focus on the fact that one of my guests, Peter Mandelson, is a friend of another, Oleg Deripaska. Not once in the acres of coverage did you mention that George Osborne, who also accepted my hospitality, found the opportunity of meeting with Mr Deripaska so good that he invited the Conservatives' fundraiser Andrew Feldman, who was staying nearby, to accompany him on to Mr Deripaska's boat to solicit a donation. Since Mr Deripaska is not a British citizen, it was suggested by Mr Feldman, in a subsequent conversation at which Mr Deripaska was not present, that the donation was "channelled" through one of Mr Deripaska's British companies. Mr Deripaska declined to make any donation. I mention this because it turns out that your obsession with Mr Mandelson is trivial in light of Mr Osborne's actions. I also think it ill behoves all political parties to try and make capital at the expense of another in such circumstances. Perhaps in future it would be better if all involved accepted the age-old adage that private parties are just that.

George Osborne has met Oleg Deripaska on five occasions, four of which happened over a weekend in Corfu in August.

On Saturday January 26th, 2008 at the Davos World Economic Forum, Mr Osborne was introduced to Mr Deripaska in the company of others including Peter Mandelson.

They had a brief group conversation about the world economy. On Friday August 22 while on a family holiday in Corfu, Mr Osborne and his wife were invited onto Mr Deripaska's yacht by Mr Rothschild.

Others present again included Peter Mandelson. The conversation involved Russian and British politics. There was no conversation of any kind about political donations.

That evening Mr Osborne attended a party at the Rothschild villa and sat on the same table as Mr Rothschild, Mr Deripaska and Mr Mandelson. Again, there was no conversation about party funding.

The following evening - August 23 - Mr Osborne attended a dinner at a local taverna. Mr Deripaska did not attend but both Mr Rothschild and Peter Mandelson did.

The conversation involved the state of British politics. The next day - August 24 - Mr Osborne, who had been staying in a rented house but was now staying at the Rothschild villa with his family, mentioned to Mr Rothschild that Andrew Feldman - who Mr Rothschild had met once before - was holidaying half an hour away with his family and friends.

Mr Rothschild then invited Mr Feldman to join them for an early evening drink at the villa.

This was a social invitation and at no point previously had Mr Osborne and Mr Rothschild discussed the possibility of a donation to the Conservative Party from Mr Deripaska.

Mr Feldman, Mr Osborne, Mr Rothschild and two other house guests gathered on the villa terrace.

There was a discussion about British and American politics and in the course of which Mr Rothschild suggested to Mr Feldman that his friend, Mr Deripaska could be interested in making a party donation.

Mr Feldman had not met Mr Deripaska previously and was not aware who he was. Mr Feldman made clear that there are very strict rules on donations to political parties in the UK.

He explained that there are only two ways of giving a political donation. Firstly, if you appear as an individual on the UK electoral roll. Secondly, if the donation comes from a legitimate UK trading company.

This is an explanation Mr Feldman gives regularly when asked about donations both privately and publicly. At this point Mr Rothschild said that Mr Deripaska owned UK trading companies including Leyland Daf.

There was no discussion about how a donation by Mr Deripaska could be concealed or channelled. At no point did Mr Osborne or Mr Feldman solicit or ask for a donation, suggest ways of channelling a donation or express any wish to meet with Mr Deripaska to discuss donations.

The conversation moved on to the US elections. Some time later Mr Rothschild - having phoned Mr Deripaska - invited Mr Osborne, Mr Feldman and one other house guest for a further drink on Mr Deripaska's yacht which was moored nearby.

Mr Osborne and Mr Feldman agreed to meet with Mr Deripaska and his wife and family. They stayed on the boat for about an hour and drank tea. There was a discussion about British and Russian politics, education and Russian history.

There was no conversation or mention of party funding or the possibility of Mr Deripaska making a donation to the Conservative Party. After the group left the boat Mr Feldman did not see Mr Deripaska or Mr Rothschild again and had no further conversations with Mr Deripaska.

Mr Osborne met Mr Deripaska again briefly the following lunchtime when both Mr Deripaska and Mr Mandelson visited the Rothschild villa. The conversation between them lasted no more than five minutes and again there was no discussion about political donations.

Indeed Mr Osborne has had no further discussions with Mr Deripaska. Nor has he had a further conversation with Mr Rothschild about donations.

On September 18 Mr Feldman and Mr Rothschild had a phone conversation about the possibility of Mr Rothschild hosting a fundraising dinner for the Conservative Party - something the Rothschild family have done before.

At the end of that conversation Mr Rothschild mentioned that Leyland Daf, a UK trading company owned by Mr Deripaska, was interested in making a donation to the party.

Leyland Daf is well known to be a company recently purchased and owned by Mr Deripaska. Mr Feldman said that he was not sure if such a donation was appropriate.

He told Mr Rothschild that he would have to seek advice on the matter. Later that day it was decided after consultation with senior party officials that it would not be appropriate to accept such a donation.

There was no futher contact from Mr Rothschild or Mr Deripaska and the matter was considered to be at an end.

For clarity - neither Mr Feldman or Mr Osborne have ever discussed with Oleg Deripaska the possibility of him making a political donation.

At no point in any of these meetings and discussions did either Mr Osborne or Mr Feldman solicit or attempt to solicit a donation from Mr Deripaska.

Nor did they at any stage suggest any way that a donation could be channelled or concealed through a British company.

This statement constitutes a full and detailed explanation of Mr Osborne and Mr Feldman's dealings with Mr Deripaska.

We would now urge Lord Mandelson to provide the same.



George Osborne is grilled by reporters


The allegations made in Mr Rothschild's letter to the Times are completely untrue. Both Andrew Feldman and George Osborne deny absolutely that they attempted to solicit a donation from Oleg Deripaska. Nor did they suggest a method by which he could conceal a donation via a British company. They spent a short period of time on Mr Deripaska's boat at the invitation of Mr Rothschild. Donations to the Conservative Party were not discussed with Mr Deripaska. In a conversation on September 18, Mr Rothschild suggested to Andrew Feldman that Mr Deripaska wanted to make a donation to the party through one of his British companies. The offer was not taken up. For clarity - the Conservative Party has neither sought or received any donations from Mr Deripaska nor any of his companies.

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