Controversial politician Peter Mandelson set to be High Steward of Hull
CONTROVERSIAL Labour politician Peter Mandelson has been invited to become the High Steward of Hull.
The Labour peer, who was forced to resign twice from Tony Blair's government while holding cabinet positions, is expected to take up the historic civic role later his year.
The ancient ceremonial title is one of two connected to the city which have recently been revived.
The other – the Sheriff of Hull – is being given to Conservative peer Virginia Bottomley, who is currently chancellor of the University of Hull.
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But Lord Mandelson's appointment on an unpaid ten-year term of office is expected to create the most waves.
He remains a controversial political figure, having once been famously likened to a crab by Lord Prescott during a TV interview.
He was MP for Hartlepool until 2004 when he became Britain's European Commissioner.
After four years in the post he returned to UK politics to become Gordon Brown's Business Secretary.
The Mail understands the two appointments will be officially confirmed later his week.
It is believed Lord Mandelson was initially approached over the idea by Hull West and Hessle MP Alan Johnson, who has been working with senior city councillors over the reinstatement of the two titles.
The Labour peer was suggested because his grandfather Herbert Morrison, a former Labour cabinet minister, was also a High Steward of Hull.
The honorary post was abolished in 1974 as part of a local government re-organisation.
A council source said: "The idea is to have two very well-connected people batting for Hull on the national and international stage.
"Both Lord Mandelson and Baroness Bottomley fit the bill perfectly.
"It's not going to cost us a fortune either.
"Neither position is paid and although there will be a ceremony when the two titles will be conferred, we will probably do it on the same day as the annual installation of the Lord Mayor."
It is expected the cost of making special ceremonial chains of office for the two titles will be met by a special trust fund.
The office of High Steward of Hull was originally created in 1583 when Sir Francis Walsingham, Secretary of State to Queen Elizabeth I, took on the role.
The office holder was expected to act as a highly-placed lobbyist for the interests of Hull within central government in return for the honour of the title. A condition of any appointment was for the postholder to be a Lord and a Privy Councillor.
Former Sheriffs of Hull have included a number of prominent city business figures.
Baroness Bottomley, who was Health Secretary and Heritage Secretary in John Major's government, is expected to serve for three years as the new Sheriff.
She has been Chancellor at the University of Hull since 2006 and also serves as a non-executive director with healthcare group Smith & Nephew.
Confirmation of the two reinstated titles was received last week in an official communication from the Queen.
The communication was a response to a request made within the city's Loyal Address sent to Buckingham Palace last year to mark the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.
City council chief executive Darryl Stephenson said: "These appointments are entirely in line with raising the profile of the city."