Probe hits pol Jowell at home

British Culture Minister, Mills separate

Beleaguered British Culture Minister Tessa Jowell has separated from her corporate lawyer husband, David Mills, who is being probed for alleged financial wrongdoing involving Italian media mogul and Prime Minister and Silvio Berlusconi.

There has been press speculation that the separation is a sham to save Jowell’s political career. But colleagues of Jowell, a close ally of Prime Minister Tony Blair, have dismissed such notions as “grotesque.”

Blair expressed his support for Jowell on Monday. However, any more embarrassing revelations may end Jowell’s ministerial career.

It emerged last week that Jowell had signed a mortgage document resulting from an $600,000 gift to Mills. He is alleged to have accepted the cash from Berlusconi in return for testimony in a corruption probe against Berlusconi in 1997 concerning TV rights deals.

Jowell was cleared Thursday of breaching the ministers’ code of conduct when a government inquiry ruled that Mills had not told her about a $600,000 gift he had received.

Mills and Jowell deny any wrongdoing.