Leaked letter finally ruined Mates's career: Dinner with Nadir's PR consultant compounded growing unease at minister's links with fugitive tycoon

SOME believe Michael Mates ended his ministerial career at dinner on Wednesday night. Members of the Reform Club were surprised to see him there at all. He arrived from meeting Richard Ryder, the Chief Whip, and Sir Marcus Fox, chairman of the backbench 1922 Committee, to discuss his fragile political future.

But diners at the club were shocked to note his companion: Christopher Morgan, the public relations consultant representing Asil Nadir, the fugitive tycoon. It was Morgan's firm, Morgan Rogerson, who had introduced Mr Mates to the Turkish Cypriot; it was Morgan Rogerson which had encouraged him to raise Nadir's case with the Attorney General; it was Morgan Rogerson from whom he borrowed a second-hand Volvo car which proved to be his undoing.

Mr Mates first met Mr Morgan during the Westland affair in 1986, when Mr Morgan was representing the European consortium bidding to buy the helicopter manufacturer. Mr Mates had an interest because Michael Heseltine was a staunch supporter of the bid and later resigned from the Cabinet when the company was lost to the Americans. Mr Mates had been parliamentary private secretary to Mr Heseltine and ran his unsuccessful campaign for the Tory leadership.

Mr Morgan started to represent Nadir in 1991 - after the founder of Polly Peck had been charged with theft and false accounting involving at least pounds 30m.

But it was not Morgan who first introduced the case to Mr Mates. It was his partner Mark Rogerson, a constituent and friend.

Mr Mates became convinced that Nadir was being pursued unfairly and wrote to the Sir Nicholas Lyell, the Attorney General, to raise his concerns. Mr Mates wrote first in 1991 and, as the Independent disclosed earlier this week, well-placed sources were surprised to discover that the letter bore a close textual resemblance to a draft drawn up for Nadir.

Yesterday, the text of another letter was leaked. 'My concern about the injustice of the way this case is being handled continues to grow,' Mr Mates wrote to Sir Nicholas.

The letter - which Scotland Yard said last night was based on misinformation - was dated 17 March 1993, six weeks before Nadir jumped his pounds 3.5m bail and fled to northern Cyprus. This was before Mr Mates sent Nadir a watch inscribed 'Don't let the buggers get you down]'

He sent the watch after Nadir's trustees-in-bankruptcy had raided his London home and taken his Swiss watch off his wrist as an asset that could be realised to meet some of his debts. Mr Mates felt this was a childish and unnecessary humiliation.

But it was this disclosure that set in train the events that finally made his ministerial position untenable. At first, Mr Mates rode the storm efficiently. He stayed silent.

John Major told the Commons after the watch affair that Mr Mates had made a misjudgement, but it was not a hanging offence. He added: 'I am assured by Mr Mates that he has had no financial involvement with Mr Nadir, nor with any of his companies or with his advisers, either before he became a minister or since.'

Early in the week, there were backbench calls for Mr Mates to resign. Mr Major continued to say Mr Mates had his support. But the endorsement was weaker than it might have been. Mr Major may have been angry because Mr Mates had not told him about the car. Mr Mates kept it secret until, after a challenge from the Independent, he issued a statement. He did so after consulting Downing Street - and Christopher Morgan.

Leading article, page 21

(Photograph omitted)

Voices
On the last day of campaigning before the polling booths open, the SNP leader has written to voters in a final attempt to convince them to vote for independence
scotland decidesIs a huge gamble on oil keeping First Minister up at night?
Arts and Entertainment
Rosalind Buckland, the inspiration for Cider with Rosie died this week
booksBut what is it like to be the person who inspires a classic work of art?
Life and Style
techApple has just launched its latest mobile operating software – so what should you do first?
News
A male driver reverses his Vauxhall Astra from a tow truck
newsThe 'extremely dangerous' attempt to avoid being impounded has been heavily criticised
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Messi in action for Barcelona
filmSo what makes the little man tick?
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: An undercooked end (spoiler alert)
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding
musicThe singer said 'the last thing I want to do is degrade'
Sport
Cesc Fabregas celebrates his first Chelsea goal
footballChelsea vs Schalke match report
Arts and Entertainment
Toby Jones (left) and Mackenzie Crook in BBC4’s new comedy The Detectorists
tvMackenzie Crook's 'Detectorists' makes the hobby look 'dysfunctional', they say
Life and Style
fashion

Olympic diver has made his modelling debut for Adidas

News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...

Maths Teacher

£90 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Science Teacher (mater...

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for an ...

Maths Teacher

£22000 - £37000 per annum: Randstad Education Leeds: A West Yorkshire School i...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week