Mills 'will not appear in Italian court' - and regrets links with Berlusconi

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David Mills said yesterday he will not appear in an Italian court where he is charged with tax evasion - while pledging to clear his name.

The estranged husband of Tessa Jowell, the Secretary of State for Culture, went on air insisting that he is innocent both of tax fraud and corruption.

Questioned on BBC 4's Today programme, Mr Mills said that because of "strange reasons of Italian procedure" there was no need for him to turn up to the court. But challenged over whether he shouldn't grasp the opportunity to clear his name, the lawyer said he "might give evidence at some point".

The international tax lawyer, already being prosecuted for allegedly taking a bribe from Silvio Berlusconi, learned on Friday that he faces prosecution in a second case relating to his dealings with the Italian premier's family holding, Fininvest.

The judge, Fabio Paparella, ordered both men to appear before a Milan tribunal on 21 November.If convicted Mr Mills could face up to 12 years in prison.

Asked if he wished he had never got involved with Berlusconi, Mr Mills replied: "Yes."