Mayhew 'offered to resign'

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The Independent Online
SIR PATRICK Mayhew, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, yesterday confirmed that he had offered John Major his resignation after errors were revealed in his account of his contacts with the IRA, writes David McKittrick.

He said Mr Major had considered his resignation was not required. The Government suffered the embarrassment of having to issue a list of 18 corrections to material it had placed in the House of Commons library after the errors were pointed out.

The corrections confirmed that documents issued by Sinn Fein had been accurate, while those published by the Government contained important textual inconsistencies. Sir Patrick said at the time that errors had arisen from publication of the wrong draft of one document, together with typing and transmission errors.

He said yesterday: 'It is right that I formally offered my resignation. The Prime Minister felt that while the errors were unfortunate, they were not a matter requiring ministerial resignation. The reason I did that is that I think it's rather a good doctrine that when things go seriously wrong the man at the top sincerely makes an offer to carry the can back for the damage . . . that's what I did.'

The episode was viewed in Northern Ireland as a blow to Sir Patrick's credibility.

Gerry Adams, Sinn Fein's president, said yesterday that people should be sceptical about what he described as a 'Salvage Mayhew' operation, and he accused Mr Major of authorising a cover-up.