Sunday, July 23, 2006

The Crime & (Possible) Punishment of Levy & Blair


Shaun Rolph has been looking at the Political Parties, Elections & Referendums Act of 2000 and has identified the sections which could spell real trouble for both Lord Levy and the Prime Minister. And it can all be traced back to Jack Dromey's outburst in March about not being told about loans taken out by the Labour Party. Shaun Rolph says...

The Prime Minister could face a year in prison and a £5,000 fine under legislation brought in by his own government to clean up party funding. He could be forced to step down as both Prime Minister and as an MP if found guilty of ‘illegal practices’ under the Political Parties, Elections and Referendum Act. He would be barred from standing for any elective office, and even from voting in elections, for three years.

What Crime Has Been Committed?

Jack Dromey is the Treasurer of the Labour Party. On 15 March 2006 he stated that he was unaware of loans totalling £3.5 million from Dr.Chai Patel, Barry Townsley and Sir David Garrard, all of whom had been nominated for peerages.

He said that this was in contrast to his being regularly consulted about bank loans. He told the BBC, “It cannot be right that the elected officers were kept in the dark”. If Dromey’s statement is correct, then one or more offences has been committed under the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000. This is the legislation that established the Electoral Commission and the need to report to them all donations greater than £5,000.

So, anyone who, with intent to deceive, concealed from Jack Dromey (i) the amount of any donation made to the party, or (ii) the person or body making such a donation, has committed a criminal offence.

Were The Loans Donations ?


The prosecution would have to prove that the loans were, in fact, donations. The legislation makes it clear that a donation is any money lent to the party otherwise than on commercial terms. Note that it specifies terms,not solely rates, so redemption dates and the likelihood of conversion to gifts, given past practice, will be considered when deciding if the loans were commercial.

Who Hid The Loans From Jack Dromey ?

Sunday Herald, March 19 2006 ‘Levy, with Blair’s backing, contacted Labour’s then general secretary Matt Carter to resurrect the process of securing commercial loans from wealthy Labour backers.’

The Times, July 16 2006 'The £14 million in secret loans was known only to Mr Blair, Lord Levy and Matt Carter, the general secretary of the Labour Party at the time’

Scotland on Sunday, 16 July 2006 ‘It was a full year before the 2005 general election that Blair, his chief-of-staff Jonathan Powell, Levy and Carter met in the Prime Minister’s ample Downing Street study to discuss how to return a Labour government with dwindling revenue. The four men swiftly decided to ditch the principled avoidance of the loans loophole.’

What Punishment Could They Face?


What Next ?

Deputy Assistant Commissioner John Yates is leading a team from the Specialist Crimes Directorate looking into the possible sale of honours and the concealing of donations. He has told MPs that two files have already been passed to the Crown Prosecution Service. A decision whether to prosecute is expected in October or November of this year.What began with Jack Dromey’s statement in March may end with him in the witness box giving evidence against Tony Blair and other senior Labour figures.

So the Prime Minister and Lord Levy could ironically be caught by the very legislation their own government introduced. What poetic justice.

Note: Shaun Rolph is the author of this analysis, which he posted on his blog on Friday. He emailed me yesterday to ask what I thought of it. I thought it provided a new perspective and some new information so we agreed I would post it on here to give it a wider audience. Do visit Shaun's Blog and give him your feedback too.

25 comments:

strapworld said...

I wouldn't worry. Bush will have him extradited and he will be saved!

Now we know the real reason for the extradition legislation

Marquee Mark said...

So the Prime Minister and Lord Levy could ironically be caught by the very legislation their own government introduced.

None of the other legislation this Government has passed has been "tough on crime or the causes of crime", so I expect this bit of criminality will run into the sands too.

Still, if I were Jack Dromey I wouldn't go taking any walks on the Oxfordshire Downs...

Can we organise an "Order of the Golden Ferret" for Shaun Rolph? Any idea how much it would cost??

observer said...

As far as the first possible charge is concerned, Blair and Levy should be off the hook. The registered treasurer for Labour, as far as the Electoral Commission is concerned, is the General Secretary of the Party (Matt Carter, at that time), not Jack Dromey. Of course, that doesn't mean that the other charges won't stand.

Praguetory said...

Dromey is the key. The fact that he is still in post means that what he said was true - so "party" funds were not received in the usual way. Into which bank accounts were they received?

Also, you may recall that Dromey has already been punished. He was forced to call for an amnesty for the 500,000 illegal immigrants which served to reinforce this gross under-estimate and give something for the Labour hierarchy to attack in order to appear strong on Immigration.

Anonymous said...

All this and JP's escapades this hot summer are building up to a rosie winter Tony Blair will remember. Maybe he'll use one of those rendition flights no one knows about.

Anonymous said...

None of this is going to end in any difficulty for the Prime Minister. As 'observer' points out the registered treasurer for the Labour Party is the General Secretary. The loans were clearly not donations.

Rick said...

Would be terrible if Blair could not vote for 3 years - isn't it that long since he last voted in The Commons ?

Anonymous said...

Good attempt by Shaun but it's a waste of time; the PM of Great Britain would never be sanctioned in this way. In fact, given the strange "constitution" of this benighted land, he could simply telephone the Home Sec and have him call off the police investigation. Or alternatively, he could phone Jack and have him announce that he was simply lying for political reasons when he stated he had not heard of the donations. Or Blair / Reid could even invoke the new anti-terrorism powers and have you bloggers extradited to the US for trial. So you see it's all rather a waste of time. We do not live in Washington DC, Shaun and Iain are not Woodward and Bernstein and there is no Congress on the Hill. More's the pity. Anyone for a new constitutional convention?

Graham E said...

The key to this lies in the real answer to 2 questions:
1. Why would Nulab accept (repayable) loans in preference to outright (non-repayable donations).Keeping the lender's identity secret is laughable given that they were made peers shortly after.
2. Crucially what then happened to the cash and how was it accounted for.Fanciful? Remember Mandleson upsizing from a bed-sit to a £3/4 million property via a dodgy loan?

Anonymous said...

No, it's all wrong. Jack Dromey is the honorary treasurer of the party. The legally appointed treasurer is the general secretary. Really, you should do a bit of basic research before you post this - as all this was in the public domain at the time of Dromey's outburst.

sero said...

Jack Dromey is the elected treasurer of the Labour Party and sits as such on the National Executive Committee. He states he was routinely consulted about bank loans. I've added a note to the end of my post that addresses this point.

strapworld said...

anonymous is getting rather above himself for a cub reporter from the guardian.I was convinced when he resorted, in another entry on Iain's blog, when he said I was 'ranting' against the dear old U.SofA. That is a tactic used by the guardian writers/readers, lefties all, who, if they cannot throw the word 'racist' at you, say you are 'ranting'.

The original story here is correct. Blair could face real charges, but I doubt it! Also the nominated Treasurer with the Electoral Commission could be facing problems if he knew and did not do anything. So it is trouble all round.

I do agree, however, with anonymous. It is going to be a gale of an autumn and winter for our whiter than white prime minister.

WmByrd said...

Nailbiting stuff - well done Iain.
It'll all hinge on the courts' intepretation of the words 'commercial terms'.
Seems strange Blair and croneys didn't spot this flaw in their plan.

gunslinger said...

The loans were clearly not donations.

...that may, in due course, be a matter for the courts to decide...

jimthechimp said...

Levy and Blair have done to Labour what Archer and Major did for the Tories. At least Major didnt face the prospect of jail and community service too.

Rick said...

I wouldn't worry. Bush will have him extradited and he will be saved!

Ken Lay was only able to count on the trial judge and he had sponsored Clinton and Bush

vikki said...

William Lenthall (1591-1662 )was asked if he had seen any of the five MPs King Charles 1 had ordered arrested.He replied "l have neither eye to see,nor tongue to speak here,but as the House is pleased to direct me" Tony Blair might be interested in following suit:-)!

Anonymous said...

Tony (Yo!) Blair will just declare himself in the clear because the 'loans' have now been registered, just as he declared Prescott has 'rectified' the Anschutz matter by now declaring his visit, now admitting the gifts, etc. Blair will escape, but things look bad for Levy. And Prescott may have to seek asylum at the British Embassy in Beijing. Willey go there?

Tone made me do it - he's a bad influence said...

Yesterday Adam Boulton (sky chief political editor) married Tone's former office manager. Tone was there along with ALL THE GANG except Cherry (she apparently felt "that bloody women" was too close to Tone).
I have always felt that the nulab bias on sky was far worse than that on the BBC.
(To the point that I sacked off Sky last July)
Now I find out why. Why did I not know about this? (and I thought that I was fairly well informed until today) In many ways the fact that NU LAB has been so well connected to the commanding heights of the broadcast media is worse - far, far worse than this Levy stuff.
I'm so angry. Why was this conflict of interest of Bolton's not pointed out. He invited the entire NuLab gang to his f'ing wedding and the all f'ing turned up.

Anonymous said...

Shaun's blog has a link to an article in which it is argued that the loans couldn't have been on commercial terms.

griswold said...

Boulton has married into NuLabour it is true. Remember too that Murdoch is his paymaster. He is in effect a TV Peter Riddell, both dancing to His Master's Voice. Apart from that he is impartial. Interesting to note that in the last three months he has been slightly tougher on NuLabour - a little message from above. Old Rupe hedging his bets. Cameron and the boys may be dishing out licences in the future and the Dirty Old Man senses this.

strapworld said...

Tone made me do it and Griswald have raised something that has annoyed me for some time.

I have emailed News@sky.com many times complaining of the political bias of Boulton.
Perhaps if more did the same something may happen.

There again we may get nick robinson instead!!

Why the tories and the Lib Dems do not make an official complaint is beyond me! They have real evidence do they not?

Cherry didn't go along she was preparing herself for Tony (5 times a night do not forget!)

Anonymous said...

Strapworld on Boulton - you will get Robin Oakley instead and Sky News will plunge to new lows. By the way, both Fox and Sky have been utterly dismal on Lebanon - the Sky team keep getting their lines wrong and appear confused and unable to cope; the Fox lot in the US can't engage their brains for even a millisecond in the midst of all those pro-Israeli rants. Surprisingly, CNN who have been pretty pathetic in recent years have managed to do well (so long as they keep Oakley off-screen) and BBC 24, normally the last to do well at any crisis have also coped, although some of their newer journalists on the "front" could do with basic training; the BBC never quite appreciate that an Oxbridge education is not enough to prepare the little darlings for the real world. Going back to Sky News, it is hopelessly biased in favour of NL, but that only reflects Murdoch's worldwide strategy of going for whoever is popular in each country he operates in; if the polls turn, so will Sky, the Times, the Sun, etc. The same thing is currently happening with Fox in the US, which has recently adopted a much more cautious tone towards Bush given his mounting unpopularity. Murdoch cares about only three things; (1) profits (2) chinese ladies and (3) tax evasion. His massive empire in Britain still pays hardly any tax here. Woe betide the party that attempts it. Step forward Rupie - the True Ruler of the World. Who along with George Soros controls our British Money!

Average guy on the street said...

Things are finally going to get better! I just love how Tony has broken his law. What kind of loser could do such a stupid thing???

Anonymous said...

when are you going to look into the SNPs loan situation? small beer? perhaps not if you read their accounts printed last week that they received MORE in loans last year than they sspent in the entire 2005 General Election. Has interest been paid on these loans?