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Friday, 1 February, 2002, 20:45 GMT
Hain met Enron over energy plant
Peter Hain and Enron logo
The Wales Office has admitted that UK Europe Minister Peter Hain met senior managers of the collapsed US energy company Enron to discuss its proposals for a power station in south Wales.

The MP for Neath, south Wales, was a junior minister at the pre-devolution Welsh Office when the meeting took place in Feburary 1999.

Tony Blair
Tony Blair had no formal meetings with Enron
A subsequent planning application for the project at Blaenau Gwent was turned down.

The revelation on Friday came a week after Downing Street released what it said was a full record of all official ministerial meetings with Enron, which did not mention Mr Hain.

It listed seven encounters involving former Trade Secretaries Peter Mandelson and Stephen Byers and Industry ministers John Battle and Helen Liddell.

The Wales Office has now confirmed that Mr Hain too had met the chairman of Enron Europe, Ralph Hodge.

At the time the MP was a junior minister responsible for economic development at the pre-devolution Welsh Office.

A Wales Office spokesman said: "Peter Hain, as Welsh economic development minister, met Enron Europe chairman Ralph Hodge and other Enron executives on February 23 1999 to discuss the company's proposals for a power station in Blaenau Gwent.

"A subsequent planning application for this development was turned down.

"As economic development minister, Mr Hain held a great number of meetings with companies considering investing in Wales."

Political fallout

Opposition parties have sought to embarrass Labour over its links with Enron, which in November became the biggest bankrupt in corporate history.

Mr Hodge revealed that the company had spent 26,000 on a "charm offensive" to win over senior figures in the Labour party.

Lord Wakeham
Lord Wakeham is in the US consulting lawyers

But the Government denies that any decisions on energy issues were influenced by Enron sponsorship of Labour events.

On Thursday the former Conservative cabinet minister Lord Wakeham stepped down temporarily as chairman of the UK's Press Complaints Commission while questions remained about his involvement with the firm.

The peer was a non-executive director at Enron, and he has travelled to New York to meet lawyers acting for himself and other non-executive directors at the firm.

The Washington Post reported on Thursday it had seen documents showing that Enron's board of directors received detailed briefings about controversial partnership deals which hid the true size of the company's debts.

See also:

01 Feb 02 | Business
Wakeham faces Enron questions
29 Jan 02 | Business
Enron scandal at a glance
30 Jan 02 | UK Politics
PCC chief urged to stand down
31 Jan 02 | UK Politics
Power behind the scenes
31 Jan 02 | UK Politics
From energy minister to Enron director
31 Jan 02 | UK Politics
Full text of Wakeham's statement
09 Jan 02 | UK Politics
Lord Wakeham - the 'Fixit' man
29 Jan 02 | UK Politics
Q&A: Enron sleaze row
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