Letter: Cypriot sponsorship of Mandela 'party'

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The Independent Online
Sir: Your readers may be confused by the front-page story that appeared on Monday entitled 'Fugitive Cypriot funded Mandela visit' (28 June) and the subsequent article 'Fugitive Cypriot gave pounds 25,000 for Mandela party' (30 June).

On Monday it was alleged by the Independent that pounds 60,000 had been contributed by a Cypriot businessman, Charilaos Costa, towards the costs of a 'high-profile visit' by Nelson Mandela to Britain in 1990. The visit, it was claimed, was organised 'under the auspices of the Anti- Apartheid Movement' and that the pounds 60,000 contribution was sought by a 'senior Labour figure' (who the Independent now states is Neil Kinnock). Mr Costa has not funded visits by Mr Mandela to Britain. The visit referred to was at the invitation of Margaret Thatcher and was funded by the British government.

On Wednesday a second report was published under the headline that Mr Costa 'gave pounds 25,000 for Mandela party'. This was not a party for Mr Mandela it was a reception held following the 'Nelson Mandela - International Tribute for a Free South Africa' at Wembley Stadium, which Mr Mandela addressed in April 1990 following his release from prison. Mr Mandela was not even present.

Mr Costa's involvement with this party was through the company International Fashion Manufacturing Corporation and took the form of the commercial sponsorship of the reception - a fact that has been public knowledge since 1990 and was widely publicised at the time. This sponsorship involved a payment of pounds 25,000 for which the company was invoiced and payment made. It was one of a package of sponsorship and other commercial arrangements, which generated a total income of pounds 1.872m. Freedom Productions, a company associated with the Anti-Apartheid Movement, organised the Wembley concert for the Nelson Mandela International Reception Committee, which invited Mr Mandela.

Neil Kinnock kindly let the Anti- Apartheid Movement use his name in approaching potential sponsors as did many other supporters of the Wembley concert. It would have been surprising if he had done

otherwise, given his active participation in the AAM since the early


We are concerned and surprised that the Independent should go to such lengths to publicise this tenuous link between Mr Mandela and a Cypriot businessman who fled this country to avoid fraud charges two years ago, not least since the

facts have been public knowledge throughout this period.

Yours sincerely,


Executive Secretary

Anti-Apartheid Movement

London, NW1

30 June

The writer is managing director of Freedom Productions.