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
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Head Chef

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Garden Centre complex base...

Recruitment Genius: Buyer

£36000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Buyer is required to join thi...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: SThree Group have been well esta...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45000: SThree: SThree Group have been well es...

Day In a Page

Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen