Thursday, December 14, 2006

Why Wasn't Blair Interviewed Under Caution?

I find it absolutely astonishing that Tony Blair was not interviewed under caution. He is the man who awarded the peerages and as he has said himself, the buck stops with him.

Perhaps the lawyers among you can enlighten me on the rules regarding being interviewed under caution or not. What should we read into it?

Having said all that, I remain of the view that it is profoundly against the whole concept of natural justice for the Police to leak or give details of who they are or not interviewing in a particular enquiry. Whatever political pleasure it might give me to see Blair or Lord Levy in difficulties, there are wider issues here which we should not lose sight of.

34 comments:

esquared said...

I agree with your point about police leaks, but I was under the impressiont hat it was the PMOS who was giving a press briefing on the affair? Having heard yesterday that the interview was scheduled from a Number 10 source, I imagine they decided to be open about the matter rather than risk a leak.

Bel said...

Blair is a lawyer, therefore one may argue that he already knows the terms of the caution 'anything you do say blah blah'. Perhaps, perhaps he said to the Police, 'no need to interview me under caution, I already know the terms'.

By doing so, he avoids the embarrassment of journalists saying 'Blair interviewed under caution'.

Just a guess. (I'm not a criminal lawyer.)

nadders said...

Why would the police leak today? Its nulab news management that lead it to come out the same day as strangler, Diana & post offices

David Boothroyd said...

Blair wasn't interviewed under caution because he hasn't done anything wrong. Simple.

Anonymous said...

Fox Shot!!!

esquared said...

As to your first question, PACE Code of Practice C, S.11 and 12 say that if someone has committed or is suspected of having committed an offence, they must be interviewed under caution. Blair is presumably volunteering information to help with enquiries and is not a suspect. Downing St. however, were expecting and preparing for an interview under caution. What does that tell you?

Unity said...

If everything is on the level, then Blair would only be interviewed under caution if the Police had reasonable grounds to suspect that he'd been involved in unlawful activity.

What we should read into that, therefore, is that he's not presently a 'suspect' - whether than changes in due course is another matter.

As for the leaking of information, I agree it shouldn't happen in general but then this is one of those occasions where the MSM will have someone trailing Blair 24/7 and watching for if/when he was questioned, making this a 'let's prempt press speculation and get our version of events out first' situation.

You've been a PPC, Iain, so you should know how that side of the briefing game works.

Just damage limitation, that's all.

Unity said...

Nadders.

I's stop reading the Daily Express and try something a bit more upmarket.

The Ipswich situation is not a story that a politician in a pinch would want to take out the headlines - there's no political blowback from it and its big enough to hide other stuff behind.

If you'd suggested that he might be hoping for another body, then you'd be a crass arsehole, but you would have a point.

Diana... yawn!

She's dead, get over it and move on.

Post Offices...

Yep, I will grant you that one.

So you score 1 of 3.

bt said...

Blair wasn't interviewed under caution because he hasn't done anything wrong. Simple.

In Blair's Britain proven guilt is irrelevant. Suspicion (or favourable headlines) is enough to be locked up, have goods and chattels confiscated, bank account siphoned off.....

His government enacted these laws, so why aren't they being enforced?
Mind you, if it turned out that any dodgy money had come from the US, he'd probably be following in the footsteps of the NatWest Three.
If there is a God.....

Johnny Norfolk said...

He is The Prime Minister.
I think the police would take that into account.

But for the whiter than white PM it is a disgrace.

Guillermo de Vargas said...

Hang on. You have a big 'Outraged of Tunbridge Wells' headline and then at the end of your post you say 'All this tittle tattle is of course appalling, of course we must take the higher moral ground'.

I feel there may be some inconsistency here somewhere. Can you see where it is yet?

G'day.

Anonymous Ken !! said...

I am blinded by the Whitewash from Whitehall!!"

As usual everybody keeps missing False Accounting which is a far easier offence to prove.

When the dust settles it will be interesting to see whether those offences were considered. If not then draw your own conclusions!!

Never mind, the more T.B hangs on the greater the damage to his Government.

Anonymous said...

Iain, the more apposite question is how he managed to schedule this for today - the same day as the 'Diana' inquiry reports, and the news about the post offices, to throw sand into the eyes of the telly viewers ?

Can you imagine the rozzers catching up with a drug dealer, and him saying 'Hmm..I think I can fit you for an hour or two lunchtime a week Wednesday, just before I do a runner to Europe, and as long as nothing else crops up'.

'Fair enough, sir, mind how you go'.

Something has changed since the old 'Dixon of Dock Green' days.

Criminal lawyer said...

I am not sure it was wise to interview the prime minister without administering a caution. In the absence of a caution, any admissions he may have made will not be admissible in evidence against him. However there is nothing to stop the police asking for a second interview, and if by that stage they do suspect him of committing (or aiding and abetting) an offence, he must be cautioned.

Technically, the decision is one for the officer who actually carries out the interview, since he is acting "in the office of constable." But Yates will have taken very careful legal advice at every stage.

Of course, it would be open to the PM to give a "no comment" interview.

There is an irrebutable presumption of law that all leaks emanate from No. 10. (Sorry, I made that last one up.)

I suppose as usual, when something nasty happens, deputy heads will roll.

Criminal lawyer said...

By the way, the fact that Blair is a lawyer, and familiar with the caution, makes no difference. If he is under suspicion he must be cautioned, and the prosecution are not permitted to argue that it was unnecessary.

Fib Dem said...

Nick Robinson seems to have swallowed No.10 line hook, line and sinker.

Just like when they briefed him at the start that this investigation would go nowhere.

Is Nick's job to report the truth or be a mouthpiece for Number 10?

Nick reports it as a "PM not guilty" story. Nick ought to be reporting it as "PM brings the reputation of his office into disrepute".

Unity said...

I should point out one thing, here.

Blair may be a laywer, but in Trade Union and not criminal law, so he's not going to necessarily be quite so au fait with things as some think.

Anonymous said...

If others have already put 'clear blue water' between Blair's decision to put forward, as peers, people who his party officers have reccomended to him, and the offers of 'loanations' of cash for the elections, then he can probably throw caution to the wind.

Casual Observer said...

The mere fact that Blair has been interviewed by the police at all is shocking enough. Imagine the Washington PD calling in at the White House for a chat with Blair's buddy or Inspecteur Clouseau of la Securite popping into the Elysee for tea and a chat with Chirac. It's a straightforward disgrace and I am ashamed of Blair and his rotten little gang of trendy lefties running the rapidly disappearing not so great anymore Britain.

Dr.Doom said...

Iain, I think you'll find that Tony is being questioned as a witness and not as a suspect.

The original claim is that the Labour Party has given peerages for cash.

Not that Tony has given peerages for cash.

Would the SNP like to clarify their claim?

Please speak very slowly into the microphone, giving you full name and address, as well as you blood group.

Thank you.

Doom.

David Lindsay said...

And he hasn't practised for nearly 25 years (the BBC KEEPS saying that there was "no lawyer present"! Has Blair been disbarred? I think we should be told...).

Since he was elected to Parliament when he was only just 30, I've never understood how Blair became a QC. Surely he was never at the Bar long enough for that?

esquared said...

Dr Doom: I'm with Criminal Lawyer on this one. How can Blair be a witness and not a suspect when the power to grant peerages resides with the PM on behalf of the crown, not as you say, the Labour Party?

Anonymous said...

He isn't a QC

wrinkled weasel said...

re Nick Robinson..he has lost it, totally lost it.

He bleats..

"Facing this sort of investigation has caused him quite some frustration - he's felt unable to answer the critics, to answer some of the suggestions that were being brought forward."

Zounds!

He's failed to give any fucking answer to any fucking question since 1997.

Nick has seemingly gone native. God help us.

Anonymous said...

Matthew
Any barrister who becomes an MP automatically becomes elligable to use the title QC
even an incompetent wanker like Blair.

Vienna Woods said...

The QC title is almost as ridiculous as Right-Honourable for most of the shysters in this government.

Dr.Doom said...

Not suret that criminal lawyer or esquared are observing the facts.

The claim that the 'PM' is sole granter of peerages in this case.

I thought that only an outgoing PM could offer this grace and would be nodded through regardless of who or why.

The claim is against Labour, not Tony. well wishers (not) everywhere want tony doing time, but alas, I think they see only wood and not the trees.

The focus is rightly on those around Tony and the claim of compound interest being low.

It is for a party to grant Peerages and for a committee to refuse.

The claim is that 4 would be peers are bent and gave cash for honours.

Nope. Alastair Campbell is to be proved right yet again.

I therefore ask all to forgive and forget in the interests of Democracy and for Labour and f*** the Tories and SNP.
Doom.

Anonymous said...

Peter,

You miss the point about whether he is a QC or not. One commenter here asked 'how did he become one so young?' and the answer is that he didn't, except in the technical sense that you describe. But he doensn't use the title.

David Lindsay said...

Yes he does, or else I'd never have heard of him as a QC.

David Lindsay said...

Anyway, has anyone ever actually been represented in court by Tony Blair? If so, then who, when, how did it go, &c? And if not,...?

Anonymous said...

How do we know Blair wasn't interviewed under caution? It seems that our only source of information for this was the PM's spokesman, Mr Kelly. And even he's only going to know it from Mr Blair himself.

Anonymous said...

"Yes, he does, or else I'd never heard of him as a QC"

Well not necessarily, you might have seen someone else do do. But even if you did, I don't think you could say he commonly uses it. It's certainly not mentioned in his official no.10 biography, his Wikipedia article, and in fact I can't find any reference to it on the internet except for one mad blogger.

Anonymous said...

Lawyers arguing among themselves, this is far too reminscent of my divorce for comfort.

I'm still clinging to the hope that Yates aims to do a Lieutenant Columbo on Blair.

What is the prospect of Yates turning up for a second interview at the eleventh hour, wrapping Blair's coffee mug in a tissue as he squints sideways at the PM through a haze of cigar smoke, and saying, "Oh, uh, just one last thing, Mr Blair...?"

David Lindsay said...

I think that they're actually getting frightened. No, not THEM. The Met.

If anyone is ever charged, despite the incontrovertible fact of the sale of peerages and knighthoods over long years and including by both main parties at present, then, 18 months down the line, the Met would be looking, at best (yes at best!) at subjugation to the Mayor for London and to the Greater London Authority, and quite possibly at separate constabularies for each London borough.

They've been warned, and they've heeded the warning. Hence no caution when interviewing the man who must be guilty if anyone else is, as someone else clearly must be: they wouldn't dare charge him, so they can't and won't charge anyone.