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The Corfu story

Nick Robinson | 09:42 UK time, Tuesday, 21 October 2008

For the latest update on this row, go to the bottom of this entry

It is a tale of our times - a tale of how a hugely rich financier Nat Rothschild, the son of the fourth Baron Rothschild, brought together the Tory shadow chancellor, the man who would return to British politics as Gordon Brown's new business secretary and a Russian billionaire at his holiday retreat on the Greek island of Corfu. Oh, yes, and lest I forget, the media magnate Rupert Murdoch joined them as he was staying near by.

George OsborneOur story begins and ends with George Osborne. On returning from his hols he couldn't quite resist telling friends of the "poison" about Gordon Brown which, he alleged, Peter Mandelson had "dripped into the ear" of anyone listening. A story which moved from amusing gossip to the front pages after Mandelson's shock return to the cabinet.

Next came questions fuelled by the Tories about Peter Mandelson's relationship with Oleg Deripaska, the Russian whose billions come from controlling the world's largest aluminium producer. Hadn't he stayed on his boat? Osborne knew he had. Weren't they friends? Osborne knew that too. Wasn't this a conflict of interest given that, as EU Trade Commissioner, Mandelson had a role in setting tariffs for the aluminium which made Derpaska so rich?

Mandelson's first instinct was to refuse to answer questions about what he said was his private life. He knew all too well that the way the media can keep a story running is to publish a list of "unanswered questions". This approach did not, however, kill the story. Nor did the backing of the EU Commission which declared him not guilty of a breach of the rules. So far, no evidence has been produced that he broke any rules but there's little doubt that had he behaved this way as a cabinet minister he would have been in breach of the ministerial code which advises against perceived conflicts of interest.

When the questions continued, it's clear that Mr Mandelson's friend, Nat Rothschild, became angry with his old Oxford chum George Osborne for breaching the privacy of his summer party. It is this that has led to this morning's allegations, printed in the Times, that Osborne had visited the boat of the Russian billionaire with the Tory fundraiser, Andrew Feldman in order to "solicit a donation". What's more, Mr Rothschild alleges, Feldman later proposed that the donation be "channelled" through one of Mr Deripaska's British companies. Donations from overseas are, of course, illegal.

Both George Osborne and Andrew Feldman vehemently deny these allegations. The Tory party issued legal warnings to the Times last night which led to Nat Rothschild re-writing the letter in which he made his allegations. The Tories claim that this shows his version of events is unreliable. The Times insist that he was merely "clarifying" his allegations. My colleague Robert Peston revealed this morning that there are witnesses to Rothschild's story who are willing to appear in court if necessary.

Only three facts are undisputed here - the Tories did visit the boat, at a later stage a donation to the Tory party was discussed but no donation was, in fact, ultimately made. The rest, for now, is murky.

What can't be disputed is that this raises real questions about the judgement of the Conservative Party in pursuing allegations about Peter Mandelson's dealing with a man who they themselves had discussed money with.

There's an old saying in politics - if you get into the gutter you have to be prepared to get dirty.

PS. It's just been drawn to my attention that today is Peter Mandelson's birthday. You don't think that Nat Rothschild thought that this was the perfect present, do you?

UPDATE, 10:45AM: Sources close to Oleg Deripaska have told me that the Russian billionaire rejects the suggestion that he initiated conversations with senior Conservatives about making a donation to the party.

This comes in response to strenuous denials from the Conservative Party of allegations that they had "attempted to solicit a donation" from the billionaire.

The allegation was made by the financier Nat Rothschild who arranged a meeting between the shadow chancellor, George Osborne and the Tory fundraiser, Andrew Feldman with Mr Deripaska in Corfu last summer.

What is not disputed by those involved is that a meeting took place on the billionaire's yacht; that Nat Rothschild and Andrew Feldman discussed a possible donation to the Conservatives by Mr Deripaska in September and that, in fact, no donation was ever made. What is in dispute is who initiated the conversation about giving money to the Tories.

Sources close to Oleg Deripaska say that he has never donated to any British political party and never intends to.

UPDATE, 01:00PM: George Osborne's statement just now was very revealing.

On the one hand, he denied soliciting money from the Russian billionaire or talking about it with Oleg Deripaska or, of course, receiving any money. But, and it is a very big but, he did not deny my suggestion that he had discussed Mr Deripaska's possible donation with other people.

You would expect the shadow chancellor to avoid all conversations about how and whether to accept any donation. Mr Osborne has answered specific allegations made by Nat Rothschild but left unanswered big questions about his judgment.

UPDATE, 03:40PM: The BBC has learnt that the shadow chancellor, George Osborne, had a discussion with the financier Nat Rothschild during which the possibility of a donation from the Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska was raised. The conversation took place at Mr Rothschild's villa before Mr Osborne visited the billionaire on his yacht. Other guests at the villa witnessed the conversation.

Earlier today Mr Osborne denied allegations by Mr Rothschild that he had solicited a donation from Mr Deripaska. However, he did not deny that he had been involved in conversations with others about a possible donation from the Russian billionaire or on his behalf from any of his British companies.

This is the transcript of the question I put to Mr Osborne and his replies:

ROBINSON: Mr Osborne, can you just clear this up? Were you at any stage involved in conversations about a donation with this Russian billionaire or indeed on his behalf from any of his British companies?

OSBORNE: Well, a very specific allegation has been made that we solicited a donation from Mr Deripaska and I want make it absolutely clear that we neither asked for money nor did we receive money.

ROBINSON: But I've asked you a general question about whether you were involved in conversation at any time about a donation from him or his companies?

OSBORNE: People make suggestions on behalf of other people about donations to the Conservative Party like all political parties but, we have very rigorous checks and we make it absolutely clear that donations have to be legal and I come back to this central point which is we neither solicited a donation to Mr Deripaska, we didn't ask for the money and we didn't receive any.

The shadow chancellor is expected to publish a detailed account of his dealings with Nat Rothschild and Oleg Deripaska later this afternoon.


Page 1 of 6

  • Comment number 1.

    Nick, a nice broadcast by Robert I think you will agree, which you do right to bring in here.

    This all deserves to boil up into a nice little scandal. What is impressive is the apparent existence of witnesses in the face of vehement tory denials. May it run and run and cheer us all up.

  • Comment number 2.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 3.

    Sounds like Peter Mandelson is getting his own back for the previous gossip story. No one comes out of that sort of thing with much credit.

  • Comment number 4.


    In previous contributions I have suggested that accusations made against you of pro Labour bias are unfounded.

    You have made that position much more difficult to defend given today's contribution.

    Do you really believe that the two scenarios are equivalent?

    To quote your article:

    "What can't be disputed is that this raises real questions about the judgement of the Conservative Party in pursuing allegations about Peter Mandelson's dealing with a man who they themselves had discussed money with."

    Really? Is it a breach of Ministerial code to solicit donations?

    I don't think that it is the Conservative Parties judgement that is in question.

  • Comment number 5.

    Nick you say

    What can't be disputed is that this raises real questions about the judgement of the Conservative Party in pursuing allegations about Peter Mandelson's dealing with a man who they themselves had discussed money with.

    I think you have lost all judgement yourself if you think this is the story...

    You want to criticise the tories for speaking up - even though it may cause them problems?

    If they had kept quiet (a conspiracy of silence) then you would have a story....

  • Comment number 6.

    Ref my previous comment, I had forgotten about Osbournes stirring ref Mandelson so perhaps I am wrong about Nat Goldsmith.

    Do two wrongs make a right? I think not.

    I would just make sure Osbourne is not invited again.

    Indiscretion is not a great quality in a politician

  • Comment number 7.

    To quote Mr Balls-Cooper: "So what?" If any donations were illegally channelled to Tory coffers, where is the evidence?

    The Mandelson spin machine, using his "old friend", is once again in overdrive feeding the gullible media. A transparent attempt to divert attention from his Lordship's own dubious background and dealings.

  • Comment number 8.

    The closing paragraph of Nathans letter should be taken very seriously.

    He says that 'private parties' should remain just that - private.

    He is quite right, private parties should remain private, and that is why politicians cannot be trusted to have 'private lives'.

    If some one wants a private life, then they should choose a career that is compatible with that desire - and that is not politics.

    Nathan has shot a warning shot over the bows of anyone who has attended a party of his, and may want to talk about it.

    Anyone who has ever attended a private party of his is now compromised, and can't be trusted by the public.

  • Comment number 9.

    I wonder what David Cameron is thinking about all this?

    If I were him I'd hope that it comes out true so he can relieve Osbourne of his duties as it will act as an example to others than sleaze and deceipt is not to be tolerated in his party. As a bonus it would remove what I consider the be the biggest electoral liability the conservatives have.

    He just has too much of the Labour dodging about him for me to believe he doesn't have his own agenda.

  • Comment number 10.

    Ooops, the Ministry Of Truth are moderating me again! Must have struck a nerve for daring to suggest that Saint Mandelson might not be beyond repute.

    Don't know why I'm surprised...

  • Comment number 11.

    This may be a good time to drop the under-performing Osbourne and replace him with the far more able William Hague.

  • Comment number 12.

    Dear Nick

    Thanks for further evidence of why Peter Mandelson's new boss should be looking across the pond to the eye-watering success of Barack Obama's fundraising campaign.

    Forget wealthy, high-profile, high-risk of adverse publicity donors. Forget state-funding of political parties. Bring on the small donations.

    All Labour members and supporters will ask in return is a say in Labour policy-making as evidenced in the LabOUR Commission report (2007)

    Peter Kenyon

  • Comment number 13.

    The blatant pro labour bias is showing again!

  • Comment number 14.

    There is an even older saying that 'If you lie down with dogs, you are going to get fleas'.

    Why isn't anyone investigating Mandelson's role in all this and asking tough questions ?

    Or don't you have the fearless chutzpah, drive and determination of Sophie Raworth ?

    What's the matter ? Scared ?

  • Comment number 15.

    Dear Nick
    So what ? They are all at it "freebies that is," just like MPs expenses, and the Master of the freebie is still at it Blair and family, there is no Honour amounst MPs, Meps arr the like they all think they are bullet proof, and above suspicion
    "Little Jack Horner sat in the corner with his finger in the pie"?

  • Comment number 16.

    This only confirms in my mind what I have already said. That this has to be the worst parliament in living memory, if not longer.

    Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely, and the rich and powerful I consider now to be beyond redemption. They all have to go, Gordon Brown will soon have to call an election because the situation in parliament is getting beyond parody.

    I have called in earlier posts for a government of national unity with George Osbourne as leader, does nobody understand irony any more.

    Consider the pictures of Mr Mosly which caused so much problem, well can we revisit questions to the leader of the conservatives and get him to respond to questions of drug taking by senior members, even though it may well have happened before they were in high office. I demand a satisfactory response from somebody who might well lead our country if the electorate so choose.

    This report opens up again a whole new can of worms. I want anaswers to cash for honours, about loans to political parties.

    Could it be that the conservatives have a problem with regard to not pressing the government on this issue because they have their own skeletons in the cupboard.

    For a democrat I am saddened by all this. It is up to a free press to expose these issues, and for people to reveal the truths which they are hiding. It is still like the problem with Iraq. The lack of truth in the decision to go to war has undermined our society, if kies are told to take us into a war where hundreds of thousands have been killed, then surely people will lie about lesser events.

    Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and the politicians have sown the seeds for their destruction, through the democratic process. An election, and soon. This must end.

  • Comment number 17.

    a balanced reporting of the facts would have included on the amount of money this russian billionaire made from the tariff changes made by mandelson, in this "story" regardless of any cleared wrong doings.

    the european union didnt find a conflict of interest with peter mandelson staying in the company of a russian billionaire, who's company benefitted (if reports are true) to the tune of £30 million euros, after the decisions taken by peter mandelson.

    of course the european system and the house of lords, both have different rules on fundraising than the house of commons, peter mandelson has been under working under the rules of the EU and now the lords.

    is it any coincidence that labour party donations are on the rise now mandelson is back in the fold of government?

  • Comment number 18.

    Somebody should tell young George that this is what happens when you try to play with the big boys.

  • Comment number 19.

    Just a few tidbits about the 'elite' for the proles.

    Alastair Campell pointed out that these sorts of stories stay in the news for a maximum of twelve days or so before something else comes along to shift the headlines.

    I doubt if this one will even last more than a couple of days.

  • Comment number 20.

    It hasn't taken long for Mandy - the master of spin, to get to work has it.

    First there was the claims of his indiscretion and the blackening of Brown in a conversation to Osborne. This was then spun by him as a conversation about Osbournes' comments on Fox.

    Then there were media reports about Mandelsons relationship with Oleg Deripaska and visits to the Russians yacht whilst waiving through the Russians business deals in Europe.

    Low and behold, up pops one of Mandy's friends, Nathian Rothschild, to dish dirt on the tories involving the same yacht.

    I note the Times reports that Rothschild discussed the intended letter to the Times with Mandy yesterday.

    It is interesting that the Tories deny asking for a donation and, it appears that it is undisputed that they refused one when it was offered. It makes me wonder how much truth there is in the claim that they solicited a donation.

    In the letter Rothschild ends by saying "Perhaps in future it would be better if all involved accepted the age-old adage that private parties are just that"

    Is that not a warning to his 'friends' that they should keep quite about how he does his business?

    Perhaps with the implicit threat of further 'stories'?

  • Comment number 21.

    Only a lightweight like George Osborne would try to play Peter Mandelson at his own game. Mandelson is not known as the Prince of Darkness for nothing. The only way to deal with his sort is with a dead straight bat.

    What bothers me is that our country is facing a dire economic crisis and all our political leaders seem up to is snitch on each other like fourteen year olds.

    Mandelson is a genius at matching the big picture to detail and then following through on that detail. He should stick to that and not try to teach the son of the manse to tell porkies.

    As for Osbourne, well he should stop looking like he has a smell under his nose and resign to make way for a political heavyweight.

    Anyway, what were all these people doing on a Russian billionaire's yacht? I doubt if they were engaged in improving the economy of the western world. Can't they take their holidays in Dear Old Blighty? They might find it is rather a nice place. Or don't they want to mix with us unwashed taxpayers?

  • Comment number 22.

    "He said, then she said, then he said..."


    These types of stories are the political equivalent of televisions soaps, the celebrity culture, personality rather than substance and the red-top appeals to our lowest instincts.

    On a day when a weighty report is issued, analysing the changes in the distribution of wealth in our society, the BBC's senior political commentator spends his (and our) time on playground gossip.

  • Comment number 23.

    It appears from this that the stories about Mandelson dripping poison about Brown are true. All the rest is innuendo and speculation. Thanks for that Nick.

  • Comment number 24.

    Dear Nick
    So what ? They are all at it "freebies that is," just like MPs expenses, and the Master of the freebie is still at it Blair and family, there is no Honour amounst MPs, Meps arr the like they all think they are bullet proof, and above suspicion
    "Little Jack Horner sat in the corner with his finger in the pie"?
    So is this where the world crisis in Finance really started, "Tarrifs and Loans" me thinks Mandelson ahs had a few.

  • Comment number 25.

    Dear Mr. Robinson,

    I have been reading your blog for some months now and have generally found it to be insightful.

    However, I am disturbed by the anti-Tory bias which has been becoming more and more evident in your blog. You are claiming that for Osborne to question Mandelson's business links is reprehensible; what is sickening here is that Mandelson and his cronies at the BBC are not denying such links but are saying that the Tories are not in a position to question him given that they themselves had discussed funding.

    In other words, they're probably both as bad as each other, except that Mandelson has got away with this sort of thing so often and Osborne was clumsy in his approach. So why then do you come down on Mandelson's side and let him off whilst criticising the Tories?

    If you wish to issue pro-Labour propaganda, please refrain from doing it under the BBC's banner.

  • Comment number 26.

    Nick, Peston is after your job as well, see his blog!

    He must be stopped, the credit crunch has pushed him over the edge!

  • Comment number 27.

    The credit crunch and the return of Peter mandelson has left the tories in disaray.Maybe no more bust Gordon is right that it is not the time for any of the three novices(Cameron,Osbourne,Miliband).
    Unfortunately by his own hubris busted flush Gordon is not the answer either.
    If only Vince Cable had his own political party!!!!!!!!!!

  • Comment number 28.

    Mandelson, Campbell, and now a Rothschild, all spinning merrily because the Times run a good, and no doubt, true, story re Mandelson and Russki billionaire.

    This will REALLY bite Nu Labour, Mandelson especially, and I have not been able to bet on him resigning AGAIN which when it happens will show up Gordy ClOWN for what he is - useless.

    Kepp story going Nick and Mr Peston, u r doing a great service to UK and Tories.

  • Comment number 29.

    This is an important story, about Osbornes judgement. He has not come out of the banking bail out with any great glory, seemingly incapable of rising above party political opportunism. Now this. His attack on Mandelson was personal and cheap. A more serious politician would have kept his powder dry and waited to make a more substantial attack. It also brings into focus once more the question of foreign donations and the cloud of uncertainty that still hangs over Lord Ashcrofts donations to the Tory party.

  • Comment number 30.

    More pro-nulabour 'news' from the BBC. It's becoming tiresome now. Mandelson trying to get his own back is he?

    Can you not deliver what the paying British public deserve? ie. unbiased news reporting.

  • Comment number 31.

    Trust is the key issue the Tories are trying to raise here. Surely they didn't feel that Mandleson was doing anything improper with Deripaska or Osborne would have been duty bound to raise it at the first instance. If Osborne felt an impropriety was occurring can we see a copy of his complaint to the relevant EU authority?

    Their original story was that Mandy was spouting "poison" about GB. It was gossip, and fairly petty gossip that added nothing new to a years old story. Labour must now be relishing the response, and our national politicians (funded by us taxpayers) get to play “Na, Na, NA, Na-NA!” without all the aplomb of my four year old daughter in the playground.

    Guess what Cameron and Co. If you win power you may just have to work in cabinet with people you don’t like (maybe even one or two who didn’t go to Eton or Oxbridge). Of course Hestletine never had a bad word to say about Thatcher…... It was a non story that has left egg on their faces.

    Frankly I don't care who met who, or whether the Tories got their donation (although it is sad we grow more like the USA in terms of political funding every year). My main worry is whether we trust someone to run our economy who cannot be trusted by his "old Oxford chum" not to use a private party for political gain. If you’re not trusted by your friends why should you be trusted by the electorate?

  • Comment number 32.


    Which part of the story about Mandelson and his apparent conflict of interest was 'getting down in the gutter' as you allege?

    Was it the fact that Mandy dripped poison to Osborne re his best friend Brown? Or was it the genuine public interest in what the former EU Commissioner was getting up to in terms of policy decisions?

    If it was the former, fine and dandy. However, there are several huge question marks over the judgement of Mandelson and as a consequence, Brown for bringing him back.

    In my opinion, you are being misled if you want to focus upon the remnants of the fall out between Rothschild / Osborne, when there is a genuine political story to be pursued about Mandy getting back into government. Quite why you prefer the former to the latter is something you need to explain.

    Let me repeat, an EU Commissioner meets rich individuals despite the apparent conflict of interest. That EU Commissioner is then welcomed back into government (and given a Title).

    A shadow cabinet member meets one or more of the same individuals, and funding may have been discussed, but no donations were made.

    One of the above two is in government or was in a position of power regarding policy when the meetings took place.

    In the real world, which of the two should cause the biggest public outcry and ongoing investigation? The Minister who has resigned twice already through sleaze, or the shadow cabinet member? ....... Think about it for a moment. Reflect on the fact that you are employed by an organisation that is ostensibly impartial and unbiased.


    As far as I am concerned Nick, you are plumbing the depths that Mandelson and Campbell direct you towards without a moments consideration for your own credibility. Methinks it is time that we had a new representative for the BBC political news team, otherwise the organisation itself will fall into the kind of disrepute not seen since Campbell, Mandelson and Bliar were in power.

    Last week you asked of the government why they lied to us by claiming that boom and bust had been ended by Brown. You didn't get an answer then, and now you seem to have given up the ghost on holding the government to account for anything. In point of fact, if you carry on in this particular vein, we would all be better off if you just gave up the ghost altogether.

    All the best for now.

  • Comment number 33.

    Looks like Nick is trying to single-handedly save this Labour bunch of clowns.

    Could it have occured to Nick that Rothschilds was stirring it up. I thought quality journalists were supposed to check stories before going off on one about them.

    Shameful, pro Labour bias.

  • Comment number 34.

    Gosh 50 Grand.

    So about as much as an MPs stationery claim then

    Wake me up if you find some evidence.

  • Comment number 35.

    A weird scenario: Most people open their closets and see a row of suits, etc. Mandelson opening his wardrobe will see long rows of skeletons - other peoples!

  • Comment number 36.

    No donation, no story. We really have gone back to the early years of new Labour with this and you have fallen for it hook, line and sinker!
    The only one with any power that could have been of any help to said oligarch was not the shadow chancellor, so well done on being distracted Nick.

  • Comment number 37.

    Interesting to see that on Guido Fawkes' blog they are saying that Tony Blair called Rothschild and lent on him to send the letter!

    If you were ever in doubt over the BBC 's anti Tory bias you could find it in the fact that with everything else going on in the world it was the first item after the 8am news on the Today programme!

  • Comment number 38.

    #4, #13 and probably others by now.

    Anyone who seems to suggest that BBC reporters might have a degree of bias should consider the difficult circumstances they work in. It can't be easy to work constantly under the shadow of Alistair Campbell's savaging of the BBC and the resulting Hutton enquiry - an episode that left the BBC critically damaged.

    Please show a little understanding.

  • Comment number 39.

    "Only three facts are undisputed here" Absolute Rubbish. Perhaps you should have said "Only 3 facts which I can use to, once again, have a pop at the Tories are undisputed here".

    Surely, the MAJOR UNDISPUTED FACT is that Mandy was yet again in a position which he should not have been. A position which would have seen him thrown out of the cabinet yet again had the timing been different.

    Don't let the backing of the EU fool anyone, that's just like having twelve family members on a jury.

    When will we see a return to politically BALANCED reporting ?

  • Comment number 40.

    So let me get this straight:

    There are 'witnesses' who are prepared to go to court to prove they heard a shadow cabinet minister and his colleague trying to raise money for their party?

    And what court in the land is going to waste public money listening to this 'argument'?

    So I'm a judge asked to listen to 'hearsay' between a Russian businessman and some politicians.

    Give me a break.

  • Comment number 41.


    keep focusing on the real stories. This one has Alistair Campbell's fingerprints all over it.

  • Comment number 42.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 43.

    Great concept #16 TAG

    "I have called in earlier posts for a government of national unity with George Osbourne as leader, does nobody understand irony any more."

    Osborne as leader
    Blair should make a comeback as Minister of Truth
    Clegg as head of family planning with a specific brief to reduce promiscuity
    Cameron should be Drug Czar
    Mandelsonovitch as Ethics Czar
    Brown as Scottish PM
    Mr and Mrs Balls to head up a new "making MP's more popular" ministry
    Hague as style guru
    Redwood as Minister for Europe

    Who have I missed?

  • Comment number 44.

    George Osborne is rapidly discovering how the 'Prince of Darkness' was so aptly titled! How quickly the focus has shifted to the Mandelson/Campbell axis. They are now the policy makers leaving Mr Brown yet again on the sidelines of history.
    Mr Osborne should think again, and go back to setting his own party's agenda, and not be a puppet of Mandelsons machinations.

  • Comment number 45.

    22. TickhillBlogger "He said, then she said, then he said..."

    "I danced with a man who danced with a girl who danced with the Prince of Wales."

    Peter Mandelson?

  • Comment number 46.

    Mandelson's back then.
    Nick Robinson again greasing the wheels of the Labour spin-machine while there are real stories out there,when's the peerage then Nick?

  • Comment number 47.

    Isn't it about time you sent your CV in to the Mirror, Nick?

  • Comment number 48.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 49.

    Yet another truly awful bit of journalism from the Labour partys man at the BBC.I would suggest that following your 10.45 am update that you should remove this 'Story' as it is obviously complete rubbish,no doubt passed on to Nick by one of his sources.I'm thinking Campbell,Draper or Mandy himself good to see the days of spin from the Labour party are over.

  • Comment number 50.

    # 28 ronreagan seems to have missed the point about all this - maybe the moniker says it all.

    Little George Osbourne should have done some serious thinking before he started blabbermouthing all over London about what ent on during his hols. Now it's a case of the biter bit.

    On another point, isn't it miraculous the way Rupert manages to be on a yacht somewhere close by whenever we have these tasty little dramas.

  • Comment number 51.

    Typical NuLAB spin from the BBC again

  • Comment number 52.

    Does anybody really believe that anything coming from a friend of Mandelson's can be anywhere near the truth. Why would anyone in Derpaska's position want to contribute to the Tory party. He already had a friend in the EU to swing contracts, (allegedly), now the same friend is part of the British government and if past history is anything to go by (allegedly) could probably get him a British passport if he needed one. This whole scenario smells of Rothschild attempting to compromise Osborne in an attempt to win favour with the lovely Peter. Why is it a scandal that George Osborne visited the boat, yet Mandelson was actually staying on the boat. What is Mandelson's relationship with the Russian, or is that a Politically Incorrect question that cannot be asked , is it acceptable for a cabinet minister to have a relationship with a foreign national from a country which can at the moment hardly be considered friendly? Is it possible that once again the BBC is slanting the truth away from real scandal because of fear of the government reaction.

  • Comment number 53.

    I haven't seen such a biased piece of prittle prattle in a long time. It's clear they're all as grubby and corrupt as each other - fawning over the rich and powerful. What makes the bias so evident is that Robinson and Peston unload both barrels at the same time, in the same place - just to give maximum impact to the non-story of the donation that never was.

    Why not go back to the old fashioned job of the fourth estate which is to hold accountable those already in power rather than grubbing up tidbits on those aspiring to power?

  • Comment number 54.

    I find it quite amusing, Nick, that you're accused of Tory/Labour bias when this story paints the whole sorry lot of 'em as deeply unpleasant people (And I use the word 'people' in its loosest possible sense!)

  • Comment number 55.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 56.

    If any oligarch, Russian or otherwise, makes the offer, I will be happy to spend time next summer on his yacht off Corfu. I promise not to bring my fundraiser with me or to ask for money.

    He would have to put up with my children, though!

  • Comment number 57.

    Hi Nick

    How about a story about the huge debt or the forthcoming recession.

    Sadly I'm beginning to think you are turning into a mouth piece for the Labour Party.

    Try doing some proper reporting please.

  • Comment number 58.

    Isn't it bizarre that the day after the worst public borrowing figures since 1946 are announced, BBC journalists are pursuing tittle tattle against the Opposition.

    Nick, I repeat my moderated out comment from yesterday - just when are you and your fellow BBC commentators going to start holding this present Government properly to account???????

  • Comment number 59.

    Well Mr. Robinson I have always felt you tried to be fair even though we know the BBC isnt, but today Im afraid your comments lead me to change this view.

    Even if these allegations against G. Osborne are true so what? is it illegal to get donnations now. Mandelson is working his spin machine again and your all allowing this to happen. Its so obvious that Rothschild is a friend and has been told to peddle his poison, to take the heat off Mandelson. Its not a fair comparison what Mandelson has done is far more serious and you should point this out.

    Why you would even give air time to this vile man (Mandelson) let alone the written word, whom the public dislike is totally beyond me.

  • Comment number 60.


    "I doubt if this one will even last more than a couple of days."

    If the NuLab machine lets it. Politics as a spectator sport rarely gets better
    than pointing an accusing finger at Mandelson only to find a mirror image pointing straight back. And they know it.

    I'm off to look at the print media headlines. Proles? Yeah!

  • Comment number 61.

    It's just a shame Alistair Campbell's spin machine is getting nowhere with this story.

    After all...George Osbourne is a 'pretty straight sort of guy'...Alistair. Why would he have done anything wrong.

    Peter Mandelsson, however, is a twice disgraced cabinet minister who newlabour have brought back in desperation and is now surrounded by stories of Russian oligarchs and expensive flights, trips on gin palaces and the like. Far more interesting seeing how newlabour intend to diffuse that ticking time bomb.

    Or will Lord Rumba of Rio accidentally drink a cup of polonium tea? Maybe he already has and that was the reason for his sudden kidney illness?

    Maybe there will be 'witnesses' prepared to testify that they saw him drinking the tea.

    Just call an election.

  • Comment number 62.

    I see the Tory Gestapo are back on here, moaning about any report which fails to portray the Conseratives in a good light. How anyone can seriosly dispute Nick's suggestion that Osbourne displayed poor judgement with his petty gossip about Mandelson is beyond me. Osbourne was on the boat too, hob-nobbing with the same people. Did he really think this wouldn't get out? Did he really believe he was, in any way, the equal of Mandelson? The innsinuations which Osbourne himself has tried to make (without stating anything of course, perhaps because there is no truth in his innsinuations) have well and truly come back to bite him in the bum.

    And to think, this amatuer wants to be put in charge of our economy! He's an absolute laughing stock who's only achieved what he has thus far because of who he knows and where he went to school - not becuase of his irresistable talents. I personally wouldn't have him in charge of a School fete.

  • Comment number 63.

    If Cameron is serious about cleaning up Party funding, as he keeps assuring us, then these two must be sacked. Eery other party involved is now saying that a donation was discussed and that it was introduced by the two Tory officials. If this is illegal then the Police need to start taking statements.

  • Comment number 64.

    I think someone's got Nick Peston and Robert Robinson's scripts mixed up


  • Comment number 65.

    Nick, this really is nonsense of the highest order. Is this slanted article to apologise to Labour for Sophie Raworth daring to mention Mandelson's dealings when she filled in for Marr? Did Mandelson not like his very dodgy conduct aired on the BBC?

    Why not explore the simple fact that Mandelson was staying on the boat and enjoying the hospitality of a man with whom any form of association represented a direct conflict of interest with his position? Never mind the "he said" stuff; Mandelson simply should not have been there, but he was. There's your story - not the one Campbell and Mandelson and their BBC cohorts have dripped like honey into your ear.

  • Comment number 66.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 67.

    Let's have state funding for political parties, topped up by individual donations capped at a very modest amount.

    Otherwise we'll always have this sort of thing, won't we?

  • Comment number 68.


    I am afraid you missed one important factor, that factor is:-


    What is this project, well as they would say lock and load.

  • Comment number 69.

    We've seen this all before......




    Dr Kelly's death

    Dodgy Dossier = Iraqi war


  • Comment number 70.

    I smell campbell.

    Cor Blimey Nick what have you and Pesser been promised to get this so called story.

    Eureka, Nick has been offered the chance to witness Brown's assasination when Mandy plunges the knife in after Glenrothes.

  • Comment number 71.

    Nick just keep printing the truth thats all I ask whether its in favour of the Tories or Labour.
    I am sick to death of these Tory bloggers who every time your story doesn't praise the Tories it means your biased against them, if you write a unhappy storey about ladour "it's well spotted Nick a very acurate and damning story, good reporting." they are pathetic, but for me all I want is the truth.
    For the few people on here that keep asking that Osbourne must go, I agree he always was a lightweight, but to want to replace him with Hague would be a big mistake, does anybody remember when he was leader just before the GE he was on any program he could get on swearing that Tony Blair was going to take us into the euro it didn't cost him the election but it didn't do him any good and he was soon booted out.
    With his wonderful financial brain it was he who costed the dome and justified its construction by convincing parliament that there would be 12.000 visitors a day it turned out there were only 6.000 a day, not very good recomendation for him to be chancellor,.On saying that I like Hague he's a excellent speaker and can sometimes bring a little humour to the house, I think that one day he will once again become leader of the conservatives, but not as shadow chancellor.

  • Comment number 72.

    I think that the Hundred or so blog accounts run by five or six people on here screaming about BBC Bias against the Tories, fail to take into account that what they are reading in their daily scandal rags should not be taken as examples of Fair and unbiased news reporting.

    Taking the Daily Mail as your baseline standard for "unbiased" then yes, you are right, the BBC is Biased. whereas the Express, Torygraph, Star and Sun, would fit the baseline and be regarded as unbiased.

    I, however, take the view that the BBC is the baseline and it is the Daily Mail and their ilk that have skewed the Bias. (don't mention Oswald Moseley, I mentioned him once but I think I got away with it)

    Personally, I wouldn't wipe my backside with the Mail, as more C--P would come off the paper.

    I once read Jonathan Cainer in the Daily Mail Horoscope section having a crack at Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. (and that's true, not sarcasm on my part)

    As you are all rabid fans of unbiased reporting I look forward to reading your complaint letters in the "Mail" and the rest of the "Tory" press, together you could put an end to the Torification of the Press (but that's not really your aim , is it ?).

  • Comment number 73.

    Is this not really about Nat Rothchild wanting to protect his interests with this Russian billionaire and so he can use his yacht again?

    Seems they are all as bad as each other and none can be trusted.

  • Comment number 74.

    #58 - not a chance.

    Ever since the Dr David Kelly affair (God rest his soul) the BBC are scared stiff of upsetting HM Government.

    The closest you'll get to the Beeb taking on the Govt is you and I being allowed to write on this blog, which is worth as much (probably better actually because the particular commentator for this blog is er, great in front of the camera during a close debate in the Commons but as dull as dishwater in print)


  • Comment number 75.

    What a surprise. A Labour minister gets caught doing something dodgy and promptly a story comes out accusing the Tories of doing the same. And the BBC not only buys it hook, line and sinker, but seizes on the Conservative element and drops the far more serious Labour one.

    Is this like the accusations against Chris Patten of high treason back in 1997 that Campbell admitted were 100% invented to get the heat off Bliar? Semper idem.

  • Comment number 76.

    re 59 :- susan croft

    so you always thought nick robinson was fair until today, hmm, did you not comment yesterday on the very same "BBC Bias" platform. or was that some other susan croft using the same account.


  • Comment number 77.

    Why do we have to put up with weak people such as the six or so main characters in this squalid little drama having any further part in our national life?

    At what point does the white-coated party become a real party. There just has to be a way of finding better people than having to settle for the nastiest people who float to the top of the present system.

    War's a dirty business, but politics!

  • Comment number 78.

    Are you the Official Opposition of the Opposition? Who should be questioning and scrutinising the ruling party in detail, not focusing all your efforts on the Tories - we are not in an election yet.

  • Comment number 79.

    Todays Daily Politics Show.

    Andrew Neil 'This is Mandelson's revenge, isn't it?'

    Nick Robinson 'Yes'.

    Enough said.

  • Comment number 80.

    I'm sorry to say your reporting has reached an all time low in its bias. Do not be lead or be driven by Mandelson or Campbell in these new days. They filter pure rubbish to the media. It is a fact and you should know better.
    Look at what Mandelson did for this man, not what is being said. This is where the facts are.
    Rothschild has also admitted trying to instigate an illegal transaction - any chance of a police investigation?

  • Comment number 81.

    A "Scandal" story about a Labour party official is "resisted" by the BBC but as soon as it potentially involves a Conservative party member is involved it becomes headline news?

  • Comment number 82.

    Nat Goldsmith did say what is said or goes on at a private party should reman private.

    Every person with an ounce of nouse knows that with the notable exception of George Osbourne.

    A few moments of indiscretion about Mandy have seen the tables turned with a vengance.

    The damage is now done and I suspect it is Georges reputation that is the one more damaged here.

    He is a political lightweight perhaps now is the time for DC to recognise that and bring in someone who can swing the cudgel with considerably more effect.

  • Comment number 83.

    I wonder if anyone offered cash for a nice Lordship.
    Labour might have done it before who is to say they didn't offer it again.

    And there is only one Prince Of Darkness, Ozzy Osbourne. Mandleson is The Prince of Spin and stories.

  • Comment number 84.

    Who to believe Peter Mandelson and his cronies or George Osborne? Looks like a classic Labour sting that was set up but did not work and Brown and Mandelson may well regret this episode.

  • Comment number 85.

    Talk about hoist on your own petard. Osborne tries using dirty tricks against Mandelson and then gets exposed for typical Tory sleaze, fantastic.

    Lets not forget Mandelson has been cleared of any wrongdoing by the EU. Lets see if Osborne actually dares to go to court.

    All in all a good time for Labour.

    Brown hailed as superman.

    The poverty gap narrowing

    AND tory sleaze back on the agenda.

    Lets see where the polls are next week.

  • Comment number 86.

    If nobody wants the 50K then I suppose I better take it.
    I'd hate to see it forever migrating around an accountant's books.



    gjc, Bourtie,

  • Comment number 87.

    Wonderful. The Nu Tories are acting like headless chickens over this mini scandal - what will they do when something serious really happens? Cameron and Osborne are seriously lacking in political judgement.

  • Comment number 88.

    Funny how the dirt has started to fly in the public domain now that Mr Mandleson is back.

    How desperate can this Prime Minister be to survice to condone these actions by a newly enobled minister that no one wants.

    The last days of labour now are now clear for all to see.

  • Comment number 89.

    The country is collapsing and all we get is this politiking and drivel.

    That's the real scandal.

  • Comment number 90.

    As nobody seems to have mentioned Nick Clegg I will. I think he should have dismissed this story as tittle tattle and old fashioned politics and moved straight on to what he was supposed to be selling.

    I think we can see two things in this little story. One Mandelsons comments about Brown must have been said, why else would we have the rest of the meeting. Secondly the fishy fact in this is that the Tories asked for £50k. Why would you ask a billionaire for only £50k, if that is not tied to some reporting threshold then it is a silly, tiny number.

    As to the BBC reporting of it this morning well it is as important a story as Obama's granny being poorly. Neither deserved airtime. (All the best to Obama and granny's everywhere but it isn't news.)

  • Comment number 91.

    It seems obvious that Nat Rothschild does not enjoy the publicity being given to his involvment in the "Oh not again" Mandelson Affair, he who held such a pivotal position in the EU (That cesspit of corruption). Hence this ploy to deflect the Media, with a letter which attempts to invove George Osborn. If I were you Nick I'd stick with the Mandelson story, it smells, and its Manelson who has the history and is the one with "Form".

  • Comment number 92.


    Are you going to name your source, since everyone else is naming everyone else?

    I must admit if I was a European Commissioner I would not be spending nights on Russian oligarchs boats or cruising around the Caribbean at someone else's expense but that seems to be the way politics goes these days.
    Wouldn't it be nice if all politicians didn't put enriching themselves at the top of their wish list

  • Comment number 93.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 94.

    This is a set-up, plain and simple.

    2 Tories would publicly try to solicit a measly £50k from a man that they are using as evidence that Mandelson isn't up to the job for the 3rd time?

    Or is a close friend of Mandy's leading a one-man smear crusade to besmirch their names for daring to implicate Lord Mandelson in dodgy dealings?

    Everyone claims that Rothschild tried to set them up (except for Rothschild, of course). Why would Oleg do it? For £50k to the Tories, he risks global damage to his reputation and future contracts with this and any future government. There is one person for whom the risks make any sense: Rothschild is making up a sleaze story to hurt Osborne.

  • Comment number 95.

    Read all about it!

    Tories refuse donation from Foreign businessman!

    Now, why did Mandelson get those passports for the Hinduja Brothers?

  • Comment number 96.

    59 Susan Croft,You Say
    "Even if these allegations against G. Osborne are true so what? is it illegal to get donnations now."
    Yes, from foreign nationals, they are already getting massive donations from Lord Ashcroft who is a foreign national.

    " Mandelson is working his spin machine again and your all allowing this to happen."
    What has Mandelson done then thats sticking in your craw.

    "Its so obvious that Rothschild is a friend and has been told to peddle his poison, to take the heat off Mandelson."
    Strangely enough Osbourne is a friend of Mandelson and I hardly think that Mandelson has the authority to tell Rothschild what to say,Rothschild has said that if it hadn't been for Osbourne betraying a friend e.g. Mandelson to try to make political capital out of is relationship with the Russian multi millionair, he would have said nothing, Rothschid has declared that he and several witnesses are prepared to go before a committee to give evidence if nescessary,

    " Its not a fair comparison what Mandelson has done is far more serious and you should point this out."
    Enlighten the nation what has Mandelson been wrongly accused of this time.

  • Comment number 97.

    I think the fact that Lord Ashcroft is funding the Conservative Party in lots off odd and mysterious ways is far more interesting and worthy of investigation.

  • Comment number 98.


    It seems that whatever 'sensational news' you present, it still evinces the same well worn arguments with both sides as divided as ever.

    If the purpose of your post was to bring light, then clearly you have failed. Is that a reason to give up and go?

    If you decide to hang on in there, perhaps you might like to try a different tack. In depth political analysis, and holding the paymasters to account. Now that would be interesting.

    All the best.

  • Comment number 99.

    In the true traditions of Watergate well at least the movie version, I think it was the main story source, code named 'Deep Throat' that advised the News Paper reporters to 'Just follow the money'...... and you'll find what you're looking for. If it is not big business fat cat scandles the political equivlent is not always that far behind! But pray tell me how many end up as a guest of HM not so nice facilities ........I'll tell you NONE! is it any wonder the public perception of these so called elite is less than favourable....every day brings me closer and closer!

  • Comment number 100.

    @ 56, "He would have to put up with my children, though!"

    I would strongly advise you not to let your children anywhere near the Rothschilds.


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