17:05 | 26th May 2019

Top Feature: Darren Waite

BBC to recall the moment Lord Mandelson was outed

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The BBC is to air the moment Lord Mandelson was outed by columnist Matthew Parris for the first time since it happened more than a decade ago.

The recording, to be played during an interview with the former Business Secretary on Radio 4, has been banished from the airwaves since 1998, when the slip occurred during an edition of BBC2's Newsnight.

Now radio bosses gave the go-ahead for its broadcast during an Archive On 4 programme in which the Labour politician looks back at his career.

In Meeting Myself Coming Back, Lord Mandelson talks openly about the incident for the first time, and says he was "upset" his sexuality was seen to have any political importance and the aggressive way he was pursued by journalists over the matter was "unacceptable".

Parris let slip about the politician's homosexuality when he told Newsnight host Jeremy Paxman there were "two gay members of the cabinet at least". He went on: "Chris Smith is openly gay and Peter Mandelson is certainly gay."

Paxman responded: "Ah, I think we'll just move on from there, I'm not quite sure where he is on that."

His sexuality was the subject of a story in the News Of The World more than a decade earlier but was largely forgotten due to his lower profile at the time.

Hours after the broadcast, an internal memo was issued to producers at the BBC effectively barring them from mentioning the issue. In his autobiography, The Third Man, Lord Mandelson says the BBC imposed a "ban" on any reference to the exchange.

In the new Radio 4 programme he is played the recording before giving his thoughts. He tells presenter John Wilson: "What upset me first of all was that they should be debating this as though it was some sort of question that hadn't been answered or that it was of some political importance.

"I had been outed by the News of the World some 10 years before in 1987 and had long since got over it and got through it. What I didn't accept very easily was this had suddenly become the subject of a political discussion on Newsnight, when in my view it had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with my life as a politician or what I was doing as a minister."

Source: PA

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