Jowell reveals talks with Prescott over super-casino policy

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Indy Politics

Opposition MPs made fresh calls for an inquiry into John Prescott's his role in establishing new regional super-casinos after Tessa Jowell, the Secretary of State for Culture, disclosed she had held talks with him over their potential for regenerating inner cities.

Conservatives and Liberal Democrats demanded a full investigation into Mr Prescott's personal links with casino policy after Ms Jowell said the Deputy Prime Minister had shown an interest in the number of regional casinos that would be permitted.

Ms Jowell told members of the Commons Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee: "I can certainly recall discussions with the Deputy Prime Minister about the number of casinos that were consistent with the regeneration objectives... Any discussion I had with the Deputy Prime Minister was in the context of the statement of policy on casinos and how this small number of regional casinos might maximise the regeneration objectives."

But she insisted that she could not recall discussing casino applications with Mr Prescott.

Don Foster, the Liberal Democrat culture spokesman, said: "This is growing evidence of the Deputy Prime Minister's personal interest in casino policy... It is all the more reason why it is absolutely crucial to get an investigation into the ministerial code."

Hugo Swire, the shadow Culture Secretary, added: "Mr Prescott has always hidden behind claims that he wasn't involved in casino policy. This clearly shows that Mr Prescott had a role in casino policy."

He added: "Clearly John Prescott was heavily involved in government policy on issues that would directly affect Mr Anschutz's bid... It seems apparent that the Prime Minister is more interested in protecting his own back than protecting the integrity of the Government.''

The Prime Minister's official spokesman said: "John Prescott was not involved either in the decision on the planning application since that was a matter for Greenwich council, nor was he involved in deciding gambling licences since that was a matter for an independent body."

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