BA questioned

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PETER Mandelson, the Labour MP for Hartlepool, has written to Sir Colin Marshall, the British Airways chairman, asking whether last week's World in Action programme, which contained further revelations of the apparent involvement of BA senior management in the dirty tricks campaign against Virgin, was correct.

In particular, Sir Colin is asked to explain how the programme apparently contradicted a letter he wrote to Mr Mandelson in March. In that letter, Sir Colin repeated assurances that the BA board 'did not at any time authorise any improper access to information about Virgin' and that he had no responsibility for the activities of Brian Basham, BA's external public relations adviser.

However, the programme showed a memo that apparently highlighted Sir Colin's personal interest in details of Virgin flights and an invoice signed by him for pounds 46,000 payable to Mr Basham for part of the dirty tricks campaign.

In his letter, Mr Mandelson threatens that unless he receives satisfactory answers he will raise the matter, under privilege, in the House of Commons.

Meanwhile, Virgin is expected to start legal action this week following the breakdown of talks with BA.