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Close Blair Aide Resigns Over Loan

December 23, 1998

LONDON (AP) _ A close adviser to Prime Minister Tony Blair resigned from the Cabinet today following revelations that he received a home loan from another prominent Labor Party figure.

Peter Mandelson, 45, one of the leading strategists of Labor’s 1997 landslide election victory, resigned as secretary of trade and industry, Blair’s office said.

The resignation came just a day after The Guardian newspaper disclosed that Mandelson received a $625,000 loan in 1996 from fellow legislator Geoffrey Robinson, who is now the paymaster general.

``I should not, with all candor, have entered into the arrangement,″ Mandelson said in a resignation letter to Blair.

``I should, having done so, have told you and other colleagues whose advice I value and I should have told my permanent secretary (the senior civil servant in the department) on learning of the inquiry into Geoffrey Robinson, although I entirely stood aside from this.″

It was the second resignation from Blair’s Cabinet. Welsh Secretary Ron Davies resigned in November, after he was robbed in a London area known for homosexual cruising.

Mandelson did not disclose the loan when he was appointed trade secretary earlier this year, and informed Blair of the loan last week, The Guardian said.

Some of Robinson’s business interests are the subject of two Department of Trade and Industry investigations.

Robinson, 50, has been a generous backer of the Labor Party, and 1996 he bought the New Statesman, a weekly political journal that supports Labor.

Robinson had to apologize to the House of Commons for failing to declare some of his business interests, and has been criticized by opposition lawmakers for sheltering some of his assets in offshore trusts which are not subject to British taxation.

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