Friday, January 19, 2007

Blair Adviser Arrested in Cash for Peerages Inquiry

An hour ago it was announced that Tony Blair's Director of Government Relations, Ruth Turner, has been arrested on suspicion of perverting the course of justice. I'm not going to make much comment on this as she is innocent until proven guilty, but I will say that it is an unprecendented development in British political life for something like this to happen. I think those who thought the cash for peerages inquiry was going nowhere will be rapidly revising their opinion. And if my name were McTernan, Powell or Levy I'm not sure I'd be having a very good night's sleep tonight.

33 comments:

Little Black Sambo said...

And will the greased piglet skip free?

Anonymous said...

Blair out in Quarter 1! BUY! BUY! BUY!

Admittedly, I'm not buying, but I expect my Brown money to come in sooner rather than later.

Julian H

2br02b said...

Being arrested on suspicion of perverting the course of justice makes this a much more serious matter than the previous arrests.

And Ruth Turner must be especially worried to hear that Bliar gives her his 'full support'... the kiss of death.

Trumpeter Lanfried said...

Hey, hop over to Guido chaps. He scooped Ian on this story by about thirty minutes, and already has lots of useful comments.

The Labour Humanist said...

trumpeter - guido absolutely did NOT have the story first. The first blog to publish, by a long stretch was the Daily, guido copied their story and, surprise, surprise, didn't give them the credit.

check for yourself
http://the-daily.org/2007/01/19/ruth-turner-arrested/

Anonymous said...

Maybe they are thinking it's time for them to be making arrangements to move to a country without a extradition treaty with us....

Anonymous said...

Will B,

You mean like the USA?

scroblene said...

There's going to be an awfully large number of families around this weekend, wondering why all their respective bread winners wish to spend so much time with them.

Weekends in January are a bugger at the best of times, but in homes with a worried politician sitting on the edge of his/her chair, watching every news bulletin over the next forty-eight hours, why, we may even get some cringing statements before Monday!

Overtime starts here hacks!

rrrring rrrring, rrrring rrrring, ha ha ha!

Helen said...

"And if my name were McTernan, Powell or Levy I'm not sure I'd be having a very good night's sleep tonight."

On the other hand if you were a real criminal taking money from people, mugging them or breaking into their homes and cars, you could be quite relaxed.

Past experience shows that "perverting the course of justice" is short hand for the police wants to make a gesture but can't quite find any real charges that would stick.

Anonymous said...

Always a more likely bet than offences under the POCA or electoral law. I bet they have been silly billies getting a "line to take" and all that nonsense without realising quite what they were doing.

Now I wonder if the police can establish a conspiracy to pervert the course of justice and if so how far and where will it lead?

Before we get all excited let us not forget that Lord Goldsmith dropped prosecutions in the Saudi arms case recently. Will he allow the law to run its course here if justice demands a trial?

BTW: The max penalty for the perversion of justice is up to life imprisonment.

Sabretache said...

"And if my name were McTernan, Powell or Levy"

... or Anthony Charles Lynton Blair ...

"I'm not sure I'd be having a very good night's sleep tonight."

Priam said...

This has really brightened up my day. I think if I have a daughter, I'll name her Yates.....well maybe not, perhaps the goldfish.

Anonymous said...

Careful Iain: they aren't doing the Tories haven't done. The sooner honours for party service are scrapped the better

verity said...

It says over on Guido's that the Attorney-General is going to be investigated and the results published if he fails to bring charges against these possible malfeasants.

Yes, 2br02b, her heart must have sunk down to her shoes when Blair offered his "full support".

Does Israel have an extradition treaty with us? They must have! Otherwise, Levy has right of abode there, but I don't think it will do him much good.

Looks like Brazil with Tony doing the salsa with Brazilian beach boys. Peter Mandelson would be happy to visit.

Anonymous said...

Yes, yes indeed Ed. got it in one. I hear California is good this time of year, hell any time of the year really.

Trumpeter Lanfried said...

Latest news. Ruth Turner emphatically denies any wrongdoing whatsoever. Crumbs! That makes four wrongful arrests. Yates must be trembling in his socks. Not.

G Eagle Esq said...

Dear Iain

Perhaps I worry too much

but I do worry about whether it is proper in a Democracy for the Police in these circumstances :

1. to arrest this Young Lady at all, when there seems little likelihood of her either absconding or destroying evidence (this would have happened by now, if it was going to happen)

2. to arrest her at her Home - surely an Englishman's home should be his Castle

3. to arrest her at 6:30am - most of us are especially vulnerable at such an ungodly hour - why could the arrest have happened (if at all) at a more civilized hour

We have a Government which has

A. contrived to increase the Prison Population to over 80,000 (and rising)

B. increased the number of Criminal Offences

C. failed to make the expression of Christianity a criminal offence only because of opposition from the House of Lords

If the Police can without criticism arrest Ruth Turner at 6:30am at her Home, then surely we as Citizens would ourselves be open to arrest at 6:30am

Your obedient servant etc

G E

Anonymous said...

Blair has announced "complete confidence"
She's finished then!

Anonymous said...

If you wear a snorkle there is no need to hold your breath...

Tom Paine said...

Innocent until proven guilty indeed! Haven't you heard of New Labour's "modernisation" of the justice system? Shoot her now and send her parents a bill for the bullet, that's the socialist way.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I think the fact that she was getting her own, separate, independent legal advice was significant. Will she be the proverbial canary ?

Anonymous said...

why? Even if convicted, they'll probably serve no more than 3-6 months in an open prison and still move into lobbying straight afterwards.

Conference goer said...

The thought of her answering the door to the boys in blue at dawn in her nightie makes me laugh, given how she wondered round the Conference two years ago with her nose in the air. How are the high and mighty fallen. She might have the elfin prettiness of Winona Ryder, but she's really not a nice person.

Vienna Woods said...

I, personally, don't think that the police have any substantial evidence against anyone in this case, unless of course Blair has already arranged for someone to be fitted up, and is still laying a trail of breadcrumbs that Plod can follow. All of the people arrested/interviewed so far have claimed innocence and I can't imagine anyone owning up so easily in a formal interview. Documentary evidence is about the only thing that can sink the ship and unless that can be directly associated with a particular person, or someone is shown to have guilty knowledge, then it's all meaningless!

russell said...

as I said on da Fink's blog a month ago with relation to the Saudi affair and the rule of law, which Tim Montgomerie and Iain noted at the time:

"The rule of law having been dismissed, and the public interest having been equated with the Government's interests (for which Blair takes "full responsibility"), the Attorney General can now step in to halt the cash for honours enquiry. Not in the public interest, you see. While we're at it, why not arrest DC Yates for conduct prejudicial to national security?"

Trumpeter Lanfried said...

g eagle esq [5.40 p.m.]

1. If Yates has reason to suspect "this Young Lady" of perverting the course of justice by obstructing his enquiries he would be very foolish to give her advance notice of his officers' visit.

The police cannot interview anyone whom they reasonably suspect has committed a criminal offence unless that person has first been arrested and cautioned. Any subsequent interview must then be tape recorded, with the suspect's solicitor present, if she requests it. All this is set out in the Codes of Practice which are very stricly enforced.

2 & 3. To arrest her at home, in the early hours of the morning, shows some discretion. Imagine the howls of indignation if she had been arrested at Downing Street. And on an ordinary working day she may well leave home by 7.0 or 7.30 a.m., as do thousands of Londoners.

Anonymous said...

What else do we know about Ruth Turner? What connections does she have in the party? If she is just relying on Blair, she may be in deep trouble and so must he be for the police to make such a daring move. They must also have very good evidence now. I feel sorry for her though if she is just naive and has been caught up in the manipulations of people who should know better. But one wonders if any of the New Labour ministers really understand either Britain's constitution or the concept of the rule of law, or that they should consider carefully if any given action of theirs is lawful before they do it.

Did anyone else hear David Puttnam's very unwise comments on Radio 4 this evening that "the police have arrested the wrong person"? If he's not careful he will find himself up on a charge of Conspiracy to Pervert for that - interfering with the police in the conduct of their enquiries. Silly man and again typical of NL arrogance.

2br02b said...

H Eagle: "2. to arrest her at her Home - surely an Englishman's home should be his Castle"

As a mater of actual fact, she is an irish citizen.

-----

Anon 11:41: What else do we know about Ruth Turner?

She was co-founder of the "Big Issue". So there will always be a pavement somewhere for her to set out her pitch after she gets out of clink.

Pogo said...

And if my name were McTernan, Powell or Levy I'm not sure I'd be having a very good night's sleep tonight..

Nah... Not really. Looks more like a campaign to placate the chattering classes by chucking a few sprats to the constabulary.

Anonymous said...

Guido Fawkes has a lot of inside info on Ruth Turner - it appears she was previously a sort of PFI fixer in charge of outsourcing the whole of local government to Capita et al. The fact that she is now close to Blair says a lot about NLs priorities. Marvellous write-up in Private Eye today about the staggering amounts of taxpayers money now going on PFI. Of course, not a whisper of complaint about it from the Tories who will be 100% in favour of continuing it because of the graft it attracts. Meanwhile, our soldiers live in shitholes and our old folk have no carers. Brilliant!

G Eagle Esq said...

Dear 11:09pm Trumpeter Lanfried

Thank you for your well-considered comments, which have great general force - I apologise for my relative innocence of criminal procedures

However, the substance of my concerns remains :

A. The argument against warning the Accused surely has NO force on this occasion - I knew that a visit to Miss Turner from the Police was likely or indeed certain - Miss Turner must have also known this - if she were going to destroy evidence, she would have done so long ago

B. If the Police purpose was to secure evidence (eg Computers), then a Search Warrant would have sufficed

C. I appreciate that dragging Miss Turner out of bed at 6:30am was convenient & intellectually attractive for the Police because she would not have left for work at that ungodly hour

D. However, when dealing with the Liberty of the Citizen, the convenience of the Police is certainly not the paramount consideration - if Miss Turner really had to be arrested, the Police could have come at (say) 10:30am - if she were out, they could then have waited for her return or they could have come back later - indeed, in these circumstances, they could have made an appointment with her [& her advisers]

D. If you are a Policeman (or increasingly often in these enlightened times, a tax official) an arrest, AT home, AT 6:30am, can seem a terrifically gute idee. It encourages the Accused to become in a suitably "malleable" condition

E. However, I would urge the Trumpeter and everyone else to consider for a moment - each one of us (especially with this Government) must be increasingly at risk of finding ourselves at the receiving end of Police attention

Unless we are content to see ourselves or our neighbours treated in similarly brutal fashion, now is the time for us to ensure that the Police exercise there powers in an appropriately humane and accountable fashion

I remain your obedient servant etc

G Eagle

Anonymous said...

Verity - great post.

Sometimes I hates ya, sometimes I loves ya, but I never, never, never ignores ya.

Tear said...

As a former senior detective from a provincial police force I do not believe that any substantial evidence has yet been revealed, despite the claims being made by Yates. This latest "swoop" (why do the police always swoop?) at 6am is a typical ploy to unnerve a suspect by the element of surprise. There would have been no need to do this if they were already in possession of substantial evidence and I can only believe they are performing the oomie-goolie bird dance by rotating in ever decreasing circles before finally vanishing up their own arse!