Letter to the Parliamentary Commissioner
from Mr Max Hastings, Editor of the Evening
I have discussed with Charles Reiss, our Political
Editor, and with our lawyers your letter of 12th May. We accept
our obvious responsibility to assist the Committee where we can
over what was published in the Evening Standard. Alex Renton,
a member of our staff, spoke to Mr Mandelson on this subject.
He has no contemporaneous notes but can supply a memorandum, if
the Committee orders him to do so.
Charles Reiss spoke to Mr Mandelson only subsequent
to his resignation over the rumoured sale of his property, and
not about his financial arrangements in connection with its purchase.
I must also tell you that conversations took place
between Mr Mandelson and me which I regard as having been on a
confidential basis. I am very mindful of our duty to show appropriate
respect for Parliament and for the Committee, but I am concerned
about the precedent that would be set if I were to breach that
confidence without the consent of Mr Mandelson, since it would
raise wider questions about the privacy of exchanges between politicians
I do not wish to seem in the least obstructive of
the Committee and its work, which of course we all support. But
I hope that you will agree that we will have fulfilled our responsibility
in this matter by disclosing the evidence with which we supported
what was published in the paper. I am happy to give my personal
assurance that nothing said in my telephone conversations with
Mr Mandelson would materially alter or add to the version of events
published in the Evening Standard.
17 May 1999