Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Mandelson: You Let Me Down, Alastair; Former Minister Accuses Campbell on TV of Forcing Him to Quit in Row over Passport

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Mandelson: You Let Me Down, Alastair; Former Minister Accuses Campbell on TV of Forcing Him to Quit in Row over Passport

Article excerpt

Byline: JOE MURPHY

PETER MANDELSON turns the tables on Alastair Campbell this week and attacks him for forcing his second resignation from the Cabinet.

In an extraordinary TV interview, the former Northern Ireland Secretary accuses Mr Campbell to his face of letting him down and causing his "defenestration" over the Hinduja passport affair.

"I think that as my longstanding friend of 25 years' standing you might have given me the benefit of the doubt," Mr Mandelson says in the Channel Five interview, which was shown at a private press screening today.

Mr Campbell played a critical role in forcing Mr Mandelson to quit, even though he denied claims that he intervened to help the billionaire Hinduja brothers obtain passports and was subsequently cleared.

While Mr Mandelson was pleading for more time to the Prime Minister, Mr Campbell pulled the rug by telling journalists there was a question mark over whether Mr Blair trusted his minister's version.

In the interview, Mr Campbell he looks unsettled when accused of letting "a series of cock-ups" turn into a resignation. Mr Mandelson suggests it was "because you have a different relationship with me", implying that he was judged more harshly. Mr Campbell falls silent for a second before cutting him off by intervening: "I don't know, but I'm asking the questions."

In the interview, one of a series Mr Campbell is conducting for Channel Five, the pair also clash over Mr Mandelson's first resignation.

Mr Campbell demands: "Why on earth did you take a huge loan from Geoffrey Robinson to buy yourself a nice swanky house in Notting Hill?"

Piqued, Mr Mandelson retorts that Mr Campbell has a much bigger home in Hampstead. "It was nice, it was not swanky. My house was about half the size of the house you currently occupy."

Mr Mandelson claims the Robinson loan was not kept secret but was merely "unpublicised". He believes he had to resign to show Mr Blair did not exempt anyone from the strictest standards of probity, "not even his nearest and dearest".

At one stage, Mr Mandelson suggests the public reaction to one New Labour former spin doctor interviewing another will be mockery. …

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