Pressure grows on Mates over Nadir: Downing Street orders minister to remain silent

SEVERAL Conservative backbenchers warned last night that unless Michael Mates gives a full account of why he took up Asil Nadir's case with Sir Nicholas Lyell, the Attorney General, he will find himself under increasing pressure to resign.

But any further explanation is unlikely to be immediately forthcoming. Number 10 Downing Street has ordered him to remain silent, an indication of how worried the Prime Minister is about the impact of the affair.

The Northern Ireland security minister said on Monday that, after an approach by a constituent who claimed to be one of Mr Nadir's advisers, he had written to Sir Nicholas questioning the conduct of the case by the Serious Fraud Office. Mr Mates also admitted to giving the fugitive businessman a watch inscribed 'Don't let the buggers get you down'.

Friends of Mr Mates say that he accepts that the watch may have been an 'unministerial' gesture, but they emphasise that he was acting in response to 'unspeakably wrong acts by police and bailiffs (who) had taken not only (Mr Nadir's) watch but also all his defence papers'. They accuse the SFO of 'behaving abominably' and causing Mr Nadir to flee to northern Cyprus, but added that 'everything was going fine until Mr Nadir decided to spring to his defence'.

An influential backbencher warned of a difficult week ahead for Mr Mates. 'It's very difficult for MPs to be heard during a recess, but you watch out for next week. David Mellor went on until Parliament was recalled for an emergency debate about Black Wednesday, but within 24 hours he was gone.'

While Tory members argued that Mr Mates was loyally carrying out his duties as a constituency MP, they believed the gift of a watch just before the bankrupt businessman jumped bail was 'a gross error of judgement'.

One senior Conservative said: 'Why send a watch which is inscribed with such a personal message? It's not the sort of language you use to a stranger.' Another MP added ominously: 'I have no doubt that there will be those who will want to stir this up and will be already making noises behind the scenes, which will make it more difficult for Mr Mates to continue as a minister.'

Leading article, page 21

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
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
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: Multi Trade Operative

£22000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An established, family owned de...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Services Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An exciting position has risen for a Customer ...

Recruitment Genius: Tour Drivers - UK & European

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity to join a is a...

Recruitment Genius: Fundraising Manager / Income Generation Coach

£21000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A smart software company locate...

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
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