Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Ninth Report


Letter to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards
from Mr Max Hastings, Editor of the Evening Standard

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 and journalists.

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


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