The rise of power-broker in proxy donations row
The “history of past disagreements” is a polite way of describing the time in 2002 when Mr Mendelsohn apparently threw Mr Abrahams off the executive of the Labour Friends of Israel. This move has been described by friends of Mr Mendelsohn as “an unavoidable personality clash — Jon was all smooth New Labour and David Abrahams was defiantly from a different age”.
So who is Jon Mendelsohn? A former member of Habonim, he attended L e e d s University and in 1989 became chair of the Union of Jewish Students.
Mr Mendel - sohn has become a real behind-the -scenes player in the Jewish communit y , f i r s t through Labour Party political circles and latterly through the lobby public relations company he founded, LLM, with colleagues Neal Lawson and Ben Lucas.
Described as half of a media power couple, his wife, Nicola, is a close friend of Gordon Brown’s wife, Sarah, and the deputy chairman of the Grey London advertising agency. She is also the daughter of Manchester kosher caterer, Celia Klein. The Mendelsohns have four children, Gaby, Danny, Sam and Zac.
Jon Mendelsohn is one of the bestconnected power brokers in Westminster, rising, in less than a decade, from student activist to a major player. He began as an aide to Greville Janner when the peer was still an MP. As one of Janner’s right-hand men, Mendelsohn headed the Holocaust Educational Trust, the Inter-Parliamentary Council Against Antisemitism and the Parliamentary War Crimes Group.
He became a familiar figure in the House of Commons, and is credited with helping to drum up support for the 1991 War Crimes Act.
In the run-up to the 1997 election, his potential value in establishing closer links with the Jewish community was recognised by the Labour Party, and he was appointed as a campaign strategist in Tony Blair’s office. But with t he el ection won, where Mr Mendelsohn might have been expected to seek his rewards with a Labour seat, he instead colaunched LLM a n d b e g a n a career as a political lobbyist. In 1998 The Observer accused LLM of being involved in a so-called “cash for access” scandal, claiming that Mendelsohn and associates had boasted of unparalleled access to government ministers.
But LLM denied any impropriety, and Mendelsohn rode the storm — successfully enough for him, Lucas and Lawson to sell the company in 2005 for £10 million. The sale enabled Mendelsohn to take the role of general election fundraiser for Gordon Brown as an unpaid adviser.
But this time, might the Mr Fixit of Westminster have bitten off more than he can chew?
Jon Mendelsohn in his UJS days