David Mills (lawyer)

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David Mackenzie Mills (born 1944) is a British corporate lawyer who specialises in international work for Italian companies. He was accused of money-laundering and alleged tax fraud, involving Silvio Berlusconi, he was convicted in first instance and in appeal, but the conviction was quashed by the Supreme Court of Cassation. He has been married to the Labour Party politician Tessa Jowell since 1979, though they have been separated since 2006.[1]

Early and personal life[edit]

According to The Independent, his father Kenneth Mills, was a senior spy. At the end of World War II, Kenneth Mills was running MI5's operations from Gibraltar. Later, he was transferred to Jamaica and—according to a family legend—personally foiled an attempted revolution in Cuba.[2]

Privately educated, Mills went to University College, Oxford, and qualified as a barrister in 1968.[3]

Mills has three children from his first marriage, including journalist Eleanor Mills, formerly editor of The Sunday Times News Review section[4] and later editor of The Times Saturday edition.[5]

In 1979, David Mills was married to Tessa Jowell, who had previously been married to the social scientist Roger Jowell.[6] Mills and Jowell had a son and daughter.[7] In 2009, the couple owned houses in Kentish Town in north London and in Warwickshire.[7]

In March 2006, after Jowell had claimed that Mills had not told her, until four years after the event, that Mills had been given £340,000 for his work for Silvio Berlusconi, the couple "agreed to a period of separation".[8][9] However, questions have been raised as to the extent of this separation given that Mills and Jowell "appear, to all intents and purposes, very much a married couple."[10][11]

Mills is the brother-in-law of Dame Barbara Mills QC, former Director of the Serious Fraud Office (1990–1992), Director of Public Prosecutions (1992–1998) and Adjudicator for Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs.[12][13]

David Mills' brother John Mills is chairman of JML (John Mills Limited) and a one-time Labour councillor in Camden.[14] John Mills is also one of Labour's largest party donors.

Professional career[edit]

David Mills was a barrister who became a commercial solicitor in the 1980s.[15] He is a former Labour councillor in the London borough of Camden, and like others involved in the London Labour party of the 1980s is close to the Blairite group of politicians and left-leaning celebrities, to which his second wife belongs.[16][17] Mills founded the niche private client law firm MacKenzie Mills which merged with Withers Worldwide in 1995.

Berlusconi and "Jowellgate"[edit]

Mills acted for Italy's Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi in the early 1990s. This has been the cause of controversy and of allegations. David Mills was involved in setting up a large number of offshore trusts for the "B Operation" as he termed Fininvest, Silvio Berlusconi's operations. Mills was investigated in Italy for money-laundering and alleged tax fraud[18][19] and on 10 March 2006 prosecutors in Milan asked a judge to order Mills and Berlusconi to stand trial on corruption charges. Prosecutors submitted 15,000 pages of documents to the preliminary hearing judge who will determine whether the case should go to full trial.

In February 2004, he had written to his accountants laying out a scenario where he would receive a large amount of money from the "B Operation" (Berlusconi's Fininvest) for having "turned some very tricky corners, to put it mildly" which "had kept Mr B out of a great deal of trouble that I would have landed him in if I had said all I knew".[20]

He admitted this story to Italian prosecutors, later retracting it and claiming that the money came from someone else. One source cited was Diego Attanasio, a shipping magnate and another Italian client of Mills. Attanasio denies this story. Questions were also asked about a woman living on a council estate in London's East End who is recorded as a director or company secretary of 19 companies which Mills established on behalf of his Italian clients.[21]

On 17 February 2009, an Italian court sentenced David Mills to four years and six months in jail for accepting a bribe from Silvio Berlusconi to give false evidence on his behalf in corruption trials in 1997 and 1998.[22]

Appeal[edit]

His defence counsel said that he would appeal, claiming that the sentence went "against the logic and dynamic of the evidence presented." Ms Jowell said "although we are separated I have never doubted his innocence."[23]

On 27 October 2009, the Italian Appeal Court upheld his conviction and his sentence of 4½ years prison. He confirmed that he would initiate a second and final appeal to the Cassation Court.[24]

On 25 February 2010, the Italian Cassation Court (the second and last court of appeal under Italian law) ruled a sentence of not guilty because the statute of limitations expired.[25][26] The supreme court judges ruled that he received the money in 1999, and not 2000 as prosecutors had previously argued. He was ordered to pay €250,000 compensation to the office of the Italian prime minister for "damaging its reputation".[27]

Claim that he had lied to the Inland Revenue[edit]

In evidence given by videolink from London to a Milanese court in December 2011, Mills stated that his previous claim that Berlusconi had bribed him to the extent of $600,000 had been a lie prompted by the need to “provide to the Inland Revenue a story which explained why I had treated the money as a gift and not as income” and that the money had in reality been a stipend paid to him by Italian shipbuilder Diego Attanasio. He further stated that "Mr Berlusconi is entirely innocent in this case and had absolutely nothing to do with the 600,000 dollars which is the subject of the case. I wish to apologise to him for all the trouble that I’ve caused.” [28]

Ecclestone[edit]

Mills was also involved when Formula One Racing secured a derogation from European limits on tobacco advertising after Bernie Ecclestone contributed more than one million pounds to the Labour Party during the 1997 General Election.

Trading with Iran[edit]

In 2003, it was revealed he was involved in an unsuccessful deal for Iranian airline Mahan Air to buy a fleet of BAe 146 aircraft from British Aerospace. He said the sale did not go through and that he was not granted any preferential treatment. However Foreign Office Minister Baroness Symons gave advice to Mills on the political climate surrounding the project.[29]

It was subsequently disclosed that as a consequence of these dealings, Ms Jowell has been excluded from Cabinet papers and talks on Iran since 2003.[30]

References[edit]

  1. ^ BBC News. Mar 2012
  2. ^ McSmith, Andy (2006-02-25). "David Mills: The networker". London: The Independent. Retrieved 2007-08-13. 
  3. ^ "The Minister And A £350,000 'Gift'". The Daily Mail. 2006-02-23. Retrieved 2008-02-02. 
  4. ^ "My Mentor: Giles Hattersley on Eleanor Mills". Media (London: The Independent). 2007-11-12. Retrieved 2009-02-17. 
  5. ^ Stephen Brook (2008-08-01). "Times confirms Eleanor Mills as new Saturday editor". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 2009-02-17. 
  6. ^ "THE MINISTER AND A GBP350,000 GIFT'". TMCnews. Daily Mail Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge. 23 February 2006. Retrieved 1 September 2011. 
  7. ^ a b "A New Labour 'golden couple'". news.bbc.co.uk (BBC News). 2009-02-17. Retrieved 2009-02-17. 
  8. ^ "Tessa Jowell and David Mills to split". Times Online (London: The Times). 2006-03-04. Retrieved 2009-02-17. 
  9. ^ "In Full: David Mills' statement". news.bbc.co.uk (BBC News). 2006-03-04. Retrieved 2009-02-17. 
  10. ^ Neil Sears (2009-02-16). "Revealed: Tessa Jowell's 'nights' with estranged husband convicted of taking Berlusconi bribes". London: Mail Online. Retrieved 2009-03-03. 
  11. ^ "‘Weekends together’ for Mills and Jowell". thefirstpost.co.uk (The First Post). 2009-02-19. Retrieved 2009-03-03. 
  12. ^ Tom Leonard, Media Editor (8 February 2003). "Tessa Jowell's millionaire husband in fraud inquiry". The Telegraph (London). 
  13. ^ "Competition Commission - Other members - Dame Barbara Mills, DBE, QC". Web.archive.org. 2008-03-17. Archived from the original on 2008-03-17. Retrieved 2010-08-22. 
  14. ^ "Non-predatory but non-profitable: are Labour still singing the praises of the Co-operative Bank?". The Daily Telegraph (London). 2013-05-15. 
  15. ^ Hooper, John; Tania Branigan (24 February 2006). "The Guardian profile: David Mills". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 2009-10-10. 
  16. ^ Owen, Richard; Sam Coates (February 22, 2006). "How Jowell's husband played host to Berlusconi at the Garrick Club". London: The Times. Retrieved 2009-10-10. 
  17. ^ Tweedie, Neil; Hilary Clarke (22 Feb 2006). "Jowell has nothing to do with Italian bribe allegations, insists her husband". London: The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2009-10-10. 
  18. ^ Owen, Richard (2006-02-22). "How Jowell's husband played host to Berlusconi at the Garrick Club". London: The Times. Retrieved 2008-02-01. 
  19. ^ Tweedie, Neil (2006-02-22). "Jowell has nothing to do with Italian bribe allegations, insists her husband". London: The Telegraph. Retrieved 2008-02-02. 
  20. ^ Owen, Richard (2006-02-20). "Jowell's husband left isolated over tax evasion case". London: The Times. Retrieved 2008-02-01. 
  21. ^ Hooper, John (2006-03-06). "Mills dogged by claims of £68,000 pub profit, and mentioning wife in tax inquiry". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 2007-08-13. 
  22. ^ "Proceedings, sentence, motivations". Milano.repubblica.it. Retrieved 2010-08-22. 
  23. ^ Richard Owen (2009-02-17). "David Mills sentenced to jail for accepting Berlusconi bribe". Times Online (London: The Times). Retrieved 2009-02-17. 
  24. ^ Financial Times report on Mills' appeal to Cassation Court
  25. ^ "David Mills bribery conviction quashed by appeals court". BBC. 2010-02-25. Retrieved 2010-02-27. 
  26. ^ "Mills decision a boost for Berlusconi - The Irish Times-27 February 2010". The Irish Times. 2010-02-27. Retrieved 2010-08-22. 
  27. ^ Pisa, Nick (2010-02-26). "Tessa Jowell's estranged husband David Mills 'very relieved' after Italian court quashes bribery conviction". Daily Mail (London). 
  28. ^ "David Mills 'invented' Silvio Berlusconi bribe claims", The Daily Telegraph, 25 December 2011.
  29. ^ Barnett, Antony (9 January 2005). "Minister's 'advice' on Iran jet deal". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 2009-10-10. 
  30. ^ Follain, John; Jonathan Calvert and Robert Winnett (March 12, 2006). "Jowell 'misled' officials over Mills Iran link". London: The Sunday Times. Retrieved 2009-10-10. 

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