Europe

Lawyer David Mills 'willing' to go to Berlusconi trial

Lawyer David Mills going to court, 28 Nov 11 (TV grab)
Image caption Mr Mills made no comment to journalists as he headed for court

British lawyer David Mills has said he would be prepared to testify in Italy against former PM Silvio Berlusconi under certain circumstances.

He was giving evidence at Westminster Magistrates court via video link in a corruption trial being heard in Milan.

Mr Berlusconi is involved in four trials. One relates to allegations of corruption involving his former tax lawyer, David Mills.

Mr Mills was convicted of perjury in 2009 but the verdict was later quashed.

He avoided serving a jail term because the case against him expired under Italy's statute of limitations.

The case against the former prime minister had earlier been suspended under a temporary immunity law. Mr Berlusconi is alleged to have paid Mr Mills $600,000 (£385,000) to lie under oath in two corruption trials in the 1990s.

In court in London on Monday, Mr Mills said he "would be willing to go to Italy but I am not sure what evidence I would be expected to give. I would ask my counsel to clarify what those circumstances might be."

Image caption Mr Berlusconi said he had difficulty staying awake during the trial

Acting for Mr Mills, James Lewis QC asked for the hearing to be adjourned until the public prosecutor in Milan explained what testimony he would be asked to provide.

"In our respectful submission this shouldn't be an inquisition," he said.

'No judicial outcome'

Mr Berlusconi attended proceedings in Milan. He resigned as prime minister earlier this month as Italy's borrowing costs soared.

Speaking to reporters afterwards, he complained that he had struggled to stay awake during the session and shrugged off the importance of the trial.

"This is a trial that will have no judicial outcome since it will expire in February," he said. "All the people who were in the hall, some paid by Italian taxpayers, some by me, are wasting their time."

Mr Berlusconi denies wrongdoing and alleges the Milan prosecutors are pursuing a political vendetta against him.

Mr Mills is the estranged husband of former UK cabinet minister Tessa Jowell.

Mr Berlusconi faces two other corruption trials and is also accused in another case of paying an underage prostitute and of abuse of power.

In all cases he says he is innocent.

In January, Italy's Constitutional Court swept away part of a law passed in 2010 which granted 18 months of immunity to the prime minister and some of his senior ministers.