Source :Background: Tessa Jowell, David Mills and Silvio Berlusconi
"In David Hare's most recent play, Gethsemane, a foppish prime minister sits in the Downing Street den surrounded by toys and weight machines. The PM has just clambered off his drum kit to suggest to his home secretary that she might like to stem the tide of bad stories appearing in the news about her family by separating from her husband.
Of course, Hare says it's all fiction, but the play has sparked a parlour game of Spot the New Labour Minister. In this scene the inspiration for the troublesome character – whom Hare gives a "very daring portfolio" in former Soviet bloc countries – is probably David Mills, the husband of former culture secretary Tessa Jowell.
The PM tells the fictional minister that her career may not endure the sight of her husband "in the dock, in handcuffs, in countries where they don't speak the English language" and suggests "distance". AKA divorce.
In real life, Mills and Jowell announced they would separate on 4 March 2006. Seven days earlier it had been alleged that Mills had remortgaged one of the couple's family homes in 2000 and paid the bulk of the £408,000 loan off exceptionally quickly with money (£350,000) given as a gift. This money, it was alleged, had been paid for helping his client, the Italian prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi.
Jowell was implicated because she had signed the papers – reportedly distracted since the household chore was put under her nose during a busy Labour party conference – without seeking to understand why her husband wanted it or planned to repay it.
The ministerial code of conduct tasked her with avoiding the appearance of a conflict of interest in her own life but also in that of her spouse. Instead Jowell became aware of the gift four years later. Mills argued different defences at different times but Jowell was savaged by standards watchdogs for not knowing that this money had at the very least come from her husband's Italian connections.
Remortgaging and hedge funds ... These mechanisms and devices are now the lingua franca of the economic downturn, but then the story was remarkable mostly for the size of the loan and the nature of the clients. Talk of £400,000 gifts and paperwork signed without questioning offended feminists and the frugal alike.
"As the feminist you are, are we to believe that you signed for a mortgage loan on your house for your husband, without knowing exactly how it was going to be paid back?" Woman's Hour presenter Jenni Murray asked Jowell.
Things were further inflamed when Tony Blair, acting on the advice of the cabinet secretary, Sir Gus O'Donnell, kept Jowell in her job (she was also cleared by an investigation by the parliamentary standards watchdog, Sir Philip Mawer) before the couple, mindful that Mills was facing further allegations and criminal investigation in Italy, announced they would separate after 27 years together.
Jowell had, it seemed to one anonymous Labour MP briefing at the time, "laid down her husband for her cabinet job". On hearing these reports of her intended split, Jowell said she was "nearly sick".
On its own the Jowell affair was by no means deadly for the government – the earlier scandals of Mandelson et al putting Blair's whiter-than-white claim out of circulation many years earlier – and its impact is difficult to calibrate, since it came at the beginning of a month that would also see allegations of cash for peerages first made – an affair that would run for the next 18 months.
Sir Alistair Graham, the then-chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, argued that O'Donnell was not the right person to investigate Jowell's conduct and he called the regulations on investigating the conduct of ministers – the analysis of one member of the government by another – "pretty bankrupt".
Now Graham is equally withering: "I really can not see that has anything has changed."
Blair announced the creation of a new independent adviser to adjudicate on ministerial interests in 2006, around the time the Jowell affair began. Brown's governance of Britain white paper, launched shortly after he became prime minister in 2007, promised to extend the role. Mawer has held the job since the beginning of last year. But a recent parliamentary reply suggested the government was unsure about this role. At its extreme it might see an "independent" adviser demanding the sacking of a minister.
Conservative MP Hugo Swire, who shadowed Jowell at the time, said the ongoing Italian court case meant that the opposition found it difficult to attack Jowell for fear of sub judice.
A glance at polls from the time shows Blair's leadership to already be very unpopular. Some London Labour MPs mustered only a cautious defence of the well-liked Jowell since she was spearheading the party's London elections and they feared the effect her case might have.
Days before, the government had been defeated on religious hatred legislation; a few days earlier a safe Labour seat in Scotland was lost to the Lib Dems. The internecine fighting between Blair and Brown was at a fever pitch. Blair had a torrid time at that year's party conference.
For many street fighters, active in exposing the government's infringements in the dog days of the Blair era, Hare's play is therefore a mirror. One such peer who saw Hare's play was so struck by the writer's accuracy he made notes to himself in the dark of the auditorium on the only thing he could lay his hands on – a £5 note. The Mills-Jowell saga is like that too – money in the murk."
Craig Murray org
Tessa Jowell Should Be Charged With Money Laundering
"David Mills has been given a jail sentence in Italy for corruption, though sadly he will probably escape jail as the rich and well connected normally do.
Tessa Jowell actively participated in the laundering of the corrupt payments from Silvio Berlusconi, given to her husband David Mills in return for false testimony in court to cover up some of Berlusconi's endless crooked dealings. Tessa Jowell participated as a full partner in the three time remortgaging of her home, paying off the mortgage with cash and then remortgaging. She has stated that there was "Nothing unusual" in this.
Most people would think it was very unusual to be able to pay off a large mortgage with cash at all. To do it twice and remortgage again each time would strike most of us as very weird indeed.
Which illustrates the gap between the hierarchy of "New Labour" and the "Hard working families" who are Gordon Brown's favourite soundbite. This is illustrated by Mills' description of £500,000 as "not very much".
This is of a piece with Jacqui Smith's ripping off the taxpayer of £150,000 by pretending her sister's home is her main residence, then wondering what the fuss is about. That would be ten year's salary for the British soldier killed today in Afghanistan.
Nobody who reads Mills' letter to his accountant (above link) can doubt that he is a crook. This particular Berlusconi deal was just one part of his bent practice, which included the financial arrangements for organised crime in Italy to sell on infected and condemned human blood from the USA into transfusion services in Europe. Tessa Jowell lived off these criminal earnings for decades and actively participated in laundering the cash.
Either Jowell did not notice she was living with a major criminal - in which case she is far too stupid to be a minister - or she was complicit - in which case she is far too corrupt to be a minister.
No ifs or buts are possible.
Only when Mills was exposed to the media did Jowell abandon her husband - sacrificing her marriage for her political career. If she had remained loyal to him it would have at least been some slight saving grace. In fact the woman is a total disgrace. "
This was clearly a move too distance Jowell from her husbands business dealings. If he had been found not guilty expect a self congratulating and unrepentant Jowell. All smoke and mirrors and highlights the New Labour movement as a vane and vacuous power grabbing enterise. un interested with its voters needs only the angrandisement of its top memebers, Just look at moonie and his years of close links to Brown , even too the point of giving up his seat so as Brown didn't loose his seat s an MP.
5 years ago