UNITED KINGDOM : NORTHERN IRELAND SECRETARY FORCED TO RESIGN

Peter Mandleson, the Northern Ireland Secretary, has been forced to present his resignation to Prime Minister Tony Blair after he was misrepresented by a Sunday newspaper and Downing Street was led to give misleading information. Mr. Mandleson stated that he was presenting his resignation, which Mr. Blair accepted, because he should not have sent an aide to speak to the newspaper but should have gone himself. He said on announcing his resignation that politics should be more than personal attacks by newspapers, looking for the slightest reason to blow up huge stories from insignificant events. This event is particularly tragic for Mr. Mandleson, because he had begun a brilliant political rehabilitation after a scandal in 1998, when he was also forced to resign over a loan to buy a house from a Labour Party supporter. Mandleson is a close friend and advisor of Tony Blair and is regarded as the "Lord of the Spin" (advice), credited by many for making Labour electable again after years of mismanagement. Mr. Mandleson's position as the "power behind the throne" was exaggerated by some sources but it is true that Tony Blair relies heavily on his advice and this is why this gifted, talented politician was placed in the "hot seat" in Northern Ireland. Tony Blair defended his Minister, stating that he had accepted his resignation but that Mr. Mandleson was responsible for the Northern Ireland Peace Process staying on the rails and for the continuing success of the fragile peace in the province. In this case, it was alleged that Mr. Mandleson had facilitated British citizenship for three Indian brothers who were facing corruption charges in their country but who had offered to make contributions to the Dome, a new construction in London, which transformed a degraded dock area into an innovative multi-purpose building (of which Mr. Mandleson was then the Minister). Mr. Mandleson will have to cross the political wilderness again for some time. No doubt he is a brilliant politician who the more destructive elements in the British press have decided to target just because he is gay, our corrspondent John Ashtead reports from London.

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Author`s name: Editorial Team