Saturday, October 01, 2005

Tale of the curse: "Make him stop harming Peter"

A barmy story from the world of Peter Mandelson. This one wasn't given enough currency at the time, and is perhaps forgotten. Politics is a poorer place without the likes of Whelan, and you could always rely on Mandy for some laughs, usually at his expense, like this moustache:

Wizard curse? I've had spell of good luck, says Whelan
By David Graves 26/03/2001 Daily Telegraph

For a man who had been cursed by a witch doctor's spell, Charlie Whelan was in remarkably good spirits yesterday.

"I'm enjoying my life and everything is going very well, thank you very much. Maybe he needs a new voodoo doctor," said the former Labour spin doctor of his arch rival, Peter Mandelson, after reports that a friend of the former Northern Ireland Secretary had apparently sought the assistance of a Brazilian wizard to cast a spell on him.

Mr Whelan, who quit as Gordon Brown's press secretary 14 months ago said "It doesn't seem to have worked. Since the spell was apparently cast, I've got a football column with The Telegraph, a column in the New Statesman and my Sunday show on Radio 5 Live. I've been nominated for an award by the Royal Television Society and for two Sony awards." The Tottenham Hotspur supporting journalist and broadcaster said: "To cap it all Spurs are in the FA Cup semi final and George Graham has been sacked. I could not ask for much more than that."

Mr Whelan said that he had been as surprised as "most other people" when he read in the Mail on Sunday about the correspondence between Mr Mandelson's close friend, Reinaldo Avila da Silva, and Jose Lima da Silva, 33, a witch doctor and priest in the Candomble cult, a mystical Brazilian sect that worships African gods. Mr da Silva wrote to his namesake enclosing a newspaper photograph of Mr Whelan, and asked the priest to stop him "doing bad things to harm the political career of my friend Peter".

Bizarrely, eight days after the letter was sent, Mr Mandelson was restored to the Cabinet as Northern Ireland Secretary in October, 1999. Since then, of course, he has quit the Government for a second time and Mr Whelan's media career has continued to blossom. The witch doctor, nicknamed "Zezinho", said that on October 3, 1999, Mr da Silva wrote to him enclosing Mr Whelan's photograph.

An attached letter said: "Zezinho, I write to you to ask a favour, if you can make this person who is in the photo in the piece from the newspaper stop doing bad things to harm the political career of my friend Peter? The name of this bad person is Charlie Whelan, because he is always trying to harm Peter."

He said that he did not want the priest to go overboard with any black arts, but added: "I am not asking you to do anything bad with him but let him disappear from politics. Perhaps he could go to another country and not have contact with England ever again." The letter, which was in Portuguese, concluded with a greeting in English - apparently in Mr Mandelson's distinctive handwriting - which said: "Very best wishes from your English friend, Peter."

The priest said he lit candles and placed them with roses and white corn over the letter for three days as "an offering to the gods to help Peter achieve his objective". Soon afterwards, Mr Mandelson was restored to the Cabinet and Mr da Silva's mother later took a necklace and perfume to the witch doctor as an offering, saying they were gifts from the politician.

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