Mandelson has his revenge as Osborne admits 'mistake'

George Osborne has tried to move on from the donations row by admitting that he made a mistake by becoming involved in discussions over a donation from the Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska.

The shadow Chancellor has always denied that he asked for or received any money from the aluminium magnate but he admitted that his presence on the Russian's yacht when a £50,000 donation was discussed did not look good. His admission has been calculated to help him draw a line under the incident that has damaged his ability to tackle the Government over its handling of the economy.

Mr Osborne came out fighting when the news of his meeting with the Russian billionaire was first made public by his old Oxford University friend, Nat Rothschild. But he has since faced criticism from senior figures in the Conservative Party for his actions. He admitted to friends over the weekend that he felt he had made a mistake during his now infamous holiday in Corfu, and was preparing to say as much. Mr Osborne himself sparked off the row when he is said to have spoken to a Sunday newspaper about what Mr Mandelson had said to him in a private conversation.

"It's not what you say or do but how it looks," Mr Osborne said. "To be honest, this didn't look very good and that's something I regret. I have changed the way I am going to operate when it comes to fundraising and I will not discuss individual donations with individual donors."

But his admission has not satisfied his critics among Labour's benches, who believe he has still not explained the exact nature of his discussions with Mr Deripaska. The Labour MP Denis MacShane, who has led calls for Mr Osborne to reveal the full extent of his contact with the billionaire, said: "George Osborne is still refusing to come clean with the public about the nature of the conversations he had in which donations to the Conservative Party were discussed. He has now confessed that he made an error of judgement but, for the sake of clean politics, he now needs to answer the questions he refused to answer last week."

Senior figures in the Government used Mr Osborne's admission to repeat their claim that he is too inexperienced to be trusted with the task of looking after the country's economy. Geoff Hoon, the Transport Secretary, said: "His mistakes just go to show why this is no time for a novice."

Senior Tory advisers also believe Mr Osborne's admission will help the party ratchet up the pressure on Lord Mandelson. They are still asking the Business Secretary to make a full disclosure of his dealings with Mr Deripaska. "George's candid approach will increase the pressure for the Business Secretary to give a full and frank explanation of his relationship with Deripaska," said a source close to the shadow Chancellor.

His relationship with Mr Deripaska has come under scrutiny after it emerged that changes made to aluminium tariffs by Lord Mandelson during his time as the EU's commissioner for trade were beneficial to the Russian. Lord Mandelson has already been forced to admit that he met Mr Deripaska in 2004, two years before previously stated by his officials in Europe. The oligarch's name was also removed from the guest list of a drinks reception at the British embassy taking place this week though organisers said it had nothing to do with the row.

Pressure was mounting on the Business Secretary yesterday as he again refused to make a total denial to claims that he was assisted by Mr Deripaska's company in entering Russia while on a trip with Nat Rothschild to Moscow.

But, despite his determination not to allow the controversy to interrupt his current four-day trip to Russia, the allegations have affected Lord Mandelson. His concerns led him to hold secret talks with the Press Complaints Commission over the weekend prior to the appearance of the allegations in a Sunday newspaper but neither his spokesman nor the PPC would divulge the nature of the talks. A spokesman for the PCC said: "I can confirm we held discussions with Lord Mandelson but no formal complaint has been received."

No wonder he's so happy

Lord Mandelson continued his four-day trip to Russia yesterday amid renewed pressure to reveal the extent of his links with the Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska.

The Business Secretary, currently on a tour designed to bolster trade relations between Britain and Russia, has already had to admit that he met the Russian billionaire in 2004 as EU Commissioner for Trade, two years before previously stated by his Brussels officials.

Answering questions outside the British Embassy in Moscow, Lord Mandelson described the suggestion that he should resign from the Government for the third time over his connection to Mr Deripaska as a "fantasy".

"I know what my job is and I am going to continue doing it on behalf of my country and my government," he said.

Lord Mandelson said over the weekend that he never asked for or had given any favours to Mr Deripaska during his time with the European Commission.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
US comedian Bill Mahr
people
Voices
Winston Churchill, then prime minister, outside No 10 in June 1943
voicesA C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Sport
football
News
Rob Lowe
peopleRob Lowe hits out at Obama's snub of Benjamin Netanyahu
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
Davies (let) says: 'Everybody thought we were having an affair. It was never true!'
people'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Arts and Entertainment
Over their 20 years, the band has built a community of dedicated followers the world over
music
News
Staff assemble outside the old City Road offices in London
mediaThe stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century at Britain's youngest paper
Life and Style
The Oliver twins, Philip and Andrew, at work creating the 'Dizzy' arcade-adventure games in 1988
techDocumentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Arts and Entertainment
Krall says: 'My hero player-singer is Elton John I used to listen to him as a child, every single record
music
News
Friends for life … some professionals think loneliness is more worrying than obesity
scienceSocial contact is good for our sense of wellbeing - but it's a myth that loneliness kills, say researchers
Arts and Entertainment
The Wu-Tang Clan will sell only one copy of their album Once Upon A Time In Shaolin
musicWu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own only copies of their latest albums
News
i100
Environment
Number so freshwater mussels in Cumbria have plummeted from up to three million in the 20th century to 500,000
environment
Life and Style
Models – and musicians – on the catwalk in Dior Homme for the men’s 2015/16 fashion show in Paris
fashionAt this season's Paris shows, various labels played with the city boys' favourite
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

Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant - Solar Energy - OTE £50,000

£15000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fantastic opportunities are ava...

Recruitment Genius: Compute Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Compute Engineer is required to join a globa...

Ashdown Group: PHP Web Developer / Website Coordinator (PHP, JavaScript)

£25000 - £28000 per annum + 25 days holidays & pension: Ashdown Group: PHP Web...

Recruitment Genius: Estates Projects & Resources Manager

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Based in London, Manchester, Br...

Day In a Page

Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

Michael Calvin's Last Word

How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us