Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Jowell in Clear, Says Clarke but New Questions Surface

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Jowell in Clear, Says Clarke but New Questions Surface

Article excerpt

Byline: PAUL WAUGH;KEITH DOVKANTS

TESSA JOWELL is now "out of the woods" concerning allegations against her, Home Secretary Charles Clarke said today.

In the strongest show yet of support by a fellow minister, Mr Clarke said the Culture Secretary was "completely in the clear" and should be allowed to get on with her job.

Mr Clarke's comments came as Tony Blair staged a public show of solidarity with Ms Jowell at Downing Street.

But the controversy refused to die down amid fresh details of her husband's business links to Iran.

The Standard has learned that Ms Jowell failed to declare David Mills's connections with Tehran for more than a year.

London MPs are also still sufficiently worried about the minister's future to be lining up substitutes to lead the Labour campaign for the local elections.

Home Office Minister Tony McNulty is seen as the man to step in should Ms Jowell be forced to quit her role.

Mr Clarke told the Radio 4 Today programme: "She is an outstanding colleague with whom I have worked closely on a number of issues.

"I very much enjoy working with her and I hope she remains in Government. To the extent she was in the woods, I think she is certainly out.

"The issue is conduct under both the law and the various ministerial and parliamentary codes.

"She has answered all the questions she has been asked on that, and I believe she is completely in the clear and can continue doing a very good job for the country."

The Prime Minister appeared alongside Ms Jowell in front of the cameras for a meeting in Downing Street of television executives to discuss the switchover to digital reception.

Mr Mills is expected to learn this week whether he is to face charges in Rome for allegedly accepting a bribe from Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi - a claim he strongly denies. …

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