The businessman involved in the passport scandal inquired whether it would be prudent to steer clear of the UK until after the 2001 election.

Srichand P Hinduja had a conversation with a diplomat due to concerns about implicating the Labour party, as indicated by files from the National Archives.

The individual involved in the “cash-for-passports” controversy twenty years ago inquired whether he should postpone his return to the UK until after the 2001 general election, according to recently released official documents.

Srichand P Hinduja was caught up in a dispute that ultimately resulted in Peter Mandelson’s second resignation from the cabinet, prompted by his actions while the businessman, who donated £1m to the Millennium Dome, was applying for a British passport.

The scandal posed a threat to Tony Blair’s Labour party as it sought re-election. Although the subsequent Hammond inquiry found no wrongdoing, it significantly tarnished the Labour party’s reputation in the lead-up to the general election that year.

Simon Collis, who was the UK’s consul-general in Dubai at the time and later became an ambassador to various nations, wrote on May 23, 2001, approximately two weeks after the election date was announced, that “SP Hinduja asked to meet me.”

“After discussing his business interests in Dubai and commenting on media coverage of the Hinduja family’s interactions with British ministers, SP Hinduja got to the point. He planned to depart for Geneva on May 23 and was considering returning to the UK afterwards. He asked for my opinion on whether he should postpone this until after the general election. I stated that I had absolutely no advice to offer on the matter.”

If the meeting suggests the political sensitivity Hinduja felt regarding his potential arrival in the UK at a critical time in the electoral cycle, another letter to the prime minister, also released by the National Archives on Friday, indicates the political advantage the opposition Conservative party could gain.

Philip Hammond, a former Tory MP who would later serve as chancellor under Theresa May, wrote to Blair to follow up on a question in the Commons about why he allegedly “failed to disclose to Sir Anthony Hammond’s inquiry the fact that you were a guest of the Hinduja brothers at a private dinner at their London home just six months before your government granted a passport to [SP Hinduja’s brother] GP Hinduja”.

A spokesperson for Blair declined to comment on Friday.

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