Mandelson’s debt to Britannia

About this time of year 10 years ago - on January 9 1999 to be precise - trade secretary Peter Mandelson got the all-clear from Britannia Building Society, confirming that it would not pursue him for mortgage fraud.

This was obviously good news for Mandelson and the country, otherwise he wouldn’t have gone on to become secretary of state for Northern Ireland and resign again 10 months later over the so-called Hinduja affair, in which it was suggested he had tried to influence the citizenship application of businessman Srichand Hinduja whose family was the biggest sponsor of the Faith Zone in the Millennium Dome.

And proving that you can’t keep a good man down he was to re-emerge as European commissioner for trade, a position he held for four years until October 3 last year when Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced that Mandelson would return to government in the as business secretary and be made a life peer, entitling him to a seat in the House of Lords.

Thus, on October 13 2008, the man who had who had resigned from the government in 1998 because he took a 150,000 mortgage from the building society without disclosing that he a had received a related loan of 373,000 from former paymaster-general Geoffrey Robinson to buy a home in Notting Hill, became Lord Mandelson of Foy and took his seat in the House.

As Mandelson said back in 1999: “My mortgage was not prejudiced by any other private arrangement to pay the balance of the purchase price.

“When I filled in the application form those other arrangements were not yet clear, but in whatever way it was to be finalised the building society’s interests were never jeopardised.”