Examination of Witness (Questions 220
TUESDAY 18 MAY 1999
220. The first loan you had for that property
was from Geoffrey Robinson?
(Mr Mandelson) No, I do not accept that. I do
not know whether the money came into my solicitor's account. It
may or may not have done. I do not know. Do you mean what time
the loan from Geoffrey Robinson arrived in my
221. A month before the Britannia produced
the mortgage money you had a loan from Geoffrey Robinson in relation
to that house?
(Mr Mandelson) The deposit, correct.
222. So the first loan you had in relation
to that house
(Mr Mandelson) I am sorry, yes.
223. was from Geoffrey Robinson?
It was not from the Britannia Building Society?
(Mr Mandelson) I had the offer from the building
society and their agreement to it, but the first money I had was
from Geoffrey Robinson at the time of the deposit, yes.
224. I think you have actually established
the first offer of a loan you had was from Geoffrey Robinson?
(Mr Mandelson) Okay. All right, yes, he did say
earlier on, "If you need any help, I will help you."
225. If you had the assurance you could
borrow not just the deposit but the money you needed from Geoffrey
Robinson, the first offer of a loan you had came from Geoffrey
Robinson? The first actual loan you had came from Geoffrey Robinson
as well we have established.
(Mr Mandelson) If you want to be really technical,
the first offer or intimation of help came from my mother, not
226. The first offer of a loan which you
actually took came from Geoffrey Robinson.
(Mr Mandelson) The first offer of a loan which
I actually took was the deposit, yes.
227. The last point I want to return to
is the question of what your solicitor knew about your loan from
Geoffrey Robinson. I suspect one of your answers slipped out without
you meaning it. Can you confirm that your solicitors knew in advance
that you were getting the loan from Geoffrey Robinson?
(Mr Mandelson) In advance of what?
228. Let us say, for a start, in advance
of the completion of the purchase?
(Mr Mandelson) Yes, because of the deposit.
229. We know that it was an advance for
the exchange of contracts.
(Mr Mandelson) My solicitors were not actually
involved in that. I talked to Geoffrey about that, my solicitors
did not. My solicitors talked to Geoffrey after the Party Conference.
I am not saying that they did not know, yes, they knew that Geoffrey
230. I will put my question in a very straightforward
way. When do you think that your solicitors first knew that you
were likely to be taking a loan from Geoffrey Robinson?
(Mr Mandelson) When I borrowed money from him
for the deposit.
231. A day or a week before or at the time
when you put down their names as your solicitors on the mortgage
(Mr Mandelson) No, they did not know that when
I completed the application form.
232. At the end of August when you filled
in the form
(Mr Mandelson) There was no agreement at the end
of August for Geoffrey to help me, there was no arrangement. There
was no agreement at that stage.
233. I think we understood that you had
the offer from Geoffrey Robinson to see you right in terms of
the money you might need to borrow substantially before that?
(Mr Mandelson) Did the solicitors know that he
was the wicket keeper, that he was the safety net? No, I do not
think they did.
234. We have established that you knew that
Geoffrey Robinson was the safety net.
(Mr Mandelson) Yes.
235. That had come from earlier on in the
year. There is no question about that. That is right, is it not?
(Mr Mandelson) Yes.
236. At what stage would your solicitors
have known? At what point would either your solicitors or your
research assistant have known that Geoffrey Robinson would be
the safety net? You may want to separate between your solicitors
and your solicitor's son.
(Mr Mandelson) I am afraid I cannot give you a
categorical answer to that, I just do not know. Certainly my research
assistant knew that I was viewing houses, or viewing flats as
the case was, with Geoffrey. I am sorry, I do not know whether
they knew or not. I would want to assume that they did. This was
not a secret. This was not something of "look, do not tell
anyone", that I turned to my solicitor in July or August
and said "do not tell anyone but if all else fails Geoffrey
is going to come through". It was not a secret. I never wanted
to keep it a secret. It was not something that was so extraordinary
that it needed to be kept secret. It was only turned into a great
secret by the newspapers and the headline that the Guardian
chose to splash across their story.
237. I was actually only asking you when
either your research assistant or your research assistant's father,
your solicitor, might have known, presumably from you rather than
from Geoffrey, that Geoffrey would provide whatever loans became
(Mr Mandelson) I cannot give you a completely
certain answer to that question I am afraid. I do not know the
precise date on which they knew that Geoffrey was around in the
sense of not just around helping me but in the sense that he was
going to be a failsafe.
238. In the agreement that was drawn up
between you and Mr Robinson, which I think was in October.
(Mr Mandelson) It was after the Party Conference.
239. That was drawn up by your solicitor,
is that right?
(Mr Mandelson) Yes, Geoffrey phoned him.