Britain’s top civil servant will decide today whether Culture Minister Tessa Jowell broke government rules by paying off her mortgage with money from an undisclosed source. The Italian authorities are investigating claims that Jowell’s husband, tax lawyer David Mills, took a 500,000 euro bribe from Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi in return for helpful testimony in a corruption probe. The couple have denied any wrongdoing and say the money came from another client.
In a separate development, it is also claimed that the British government compromised the investigation by alerting the Italian authorities to a request for Mr. Mills to be extradited. Opposition parties are already asking for clarification. Nigel Evans, a Conservative MP, said: “Surely they would have seen how it did compromise the investigation that was going on , it did directly involve the husband of a Cabinet Secretary of State so surely they should have acted in a more sensitive manner than they way that they did.”The Home Office has denied it has broken any rules. But Tony Blair’s government is now facing questions in Parliament over its role in the affair. Blair has promised that a full response will be made.