Robinson: 'I'm being threatened over £250,000 donation to Blair'

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Geoffrey Robinson, the former Paymaster General, is under pressure from Downing Street to drop plans to make damaging revelations about a £250,000 donation he made to Tony Blair's private office.

Geoffrey Robinson, the former Paymaster General, is under pressure from Downing Street to drop plans to make damaging revelations about a £250,000 donation he made to Tony Blair's private office.

Mr Robinson, who is writing a book about his time as a Treasury minister, has accused Blair loyalists of reminding him about a continuing Department of Trade investigation into his business interests in an attempt to muzzle him.

He has told friends he feels "threatened" by their efforts to use the inquiry as a "deterrent."

The millionaire former minister, who resigned last December after his £373,000 personal loan to Peter Mandelson became public, intends to set the record straight about his huge donation to the blind trust, which helped to finance Mr Blair's office as Leader of the Opposition before the 1997 general election.

Alarm bells are ringing in Downing Street because Mr Robinson plans to disclose that one of Mr Blair's allies approached him for money. Mr Robinson, who was appointed Paymaster General after the election, intends to "name names" in his book.

The trust is seen as a highly sensitive issue because Mr Blair has always insisted it was set up in a way that ensured he did not know the identity of the donors.

One Labour MP said yesterday: "We always suspected that the blind trust was not 'blind.' Although this is all in the past, it could still be awkward for us."

Mr Robinson's book, The Unconventional Minister , is due to be published by Penguin early in the new year. But the former minister is worried that Mr Blair's allies are implicitly using two DTI investigations to deter him from disclosing who knew about his huge donation to the Blair fund.

There is no suggestion the Prime Minister's aides are interfering in DTI inquiries into 13 possible breaches of company law by Mr Robinson's companies and the separate, long-running investigation into the empire of Robert Maxwell, with whom Mr Robinson had business links. Last night close allies of Mr Blair said Mr Robinson was "a sad, embittered man" because Mr Mandelson, who resigned on the same day, returned to the Cabinet in last week's reshuffle while he remains out in the cold.

"Geoffrey was not forced out by the Mandelson loan," a Downing Street insider said. "That was only the last straw. There were a string of revelations about his business interests and there is still a DTI investigation going on."

The book may embarrass Mr Mandelson, appointed Northern Ireland Secretary last week. It may shine light on the strained relationship between Mr Mandelson and Gordon Brown, the Chancellor, who felt betrayed when Mr Mandelson backed Mr Blair to be the modernisers' candidate in the 1994 Labour leadership election after John Smith died.

The book may also suggest that Mr Mandelson and Alastair Campbell, Mr Blair's press secretary, encouraged Mr Robinson to buy the left-wing New Statesman magazine, of which he is chairman.

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