Robinson claims 'difference of opinion' over loan

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Indy Politics

Former Paymaster General Geoffrey Robinson insisted today that Peter Mandelson had taken the lead in seeking the £373,000 home loan which led ultimately to his resignation from the Cabinet.

Former Paymaster General Geoffrey Robinson insisted today that Peter Mandelson had taken the lead in seeking the £373,000 home loan which led ultimately to his resignation from the Cabinet.

The former Treasury minister, who was also forced to resign over the home loan affair two years ago, said it was not the case that he initiated the loan offer, as Mr Mandelson has suggested.

The multi-millionaire businessman whose version of the affair is included in an autobiography being serialised in the Daily Mail, said there was a "marked difference of opinion" between his recollection of events and those of Mr Mandelson, who is now Northern Ireland Secretary.

Mr Robinson stressed he was not accusing Mr Mandelson of lying about the affair, but told the BBC: "There is very clearly, however, a marked difference of opinion between the accounts that he has given (and mine)."

His account, said Mr Robinson, had implied "... that I put him up to it in some sort of way ... gave the impression that I was the sort of person who might use my means, my money, to buy influence, power, even office.

"I felt I ought to give my own account of it, and that's precisely what I have done."

Mr Robinson insisted "... it was Peter taking the lead in these matters."

But Mr Mandelson immediately defended himself, saying it was a matter for Mr Robinson as to why he should write and serialise a book of this kind at this time.

But he said he had frequently put his side of the story, which was that he had had dinner with him in 1996 and during the course of the evening had told him his problems trying to find somewhere to live in London.

Mr Mandelson says that as Mr Robinson was a long-time friend he volunteered his financial help if needed.

He added that he considered the matter closed and did not want to be distracted from his work as Northern Ireland secretary by it.

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