Friday, September 22, 2006

Cash for Peerages Inquiry Will Not Go Away

I suspect the majority of my readers do not subscribe to the New Statesman. Well you're missing out. Especially this week. Their political editor Martin Bright has a cracker of an article HERE.

If you were reading last Sundays papers you might have seen an article alleging that John Yates's Inquiry into Cash for Peerages was getting nowehere and was close to being abandoned. It looked like a bit of New Labour wishful thinking, and Martin Bright seems to agree. He's made a documentary for Channel 4 which will be broadcast on Monday at 8pm. Here's a short extract from his article...

"So were the loans designed to be hidden? Matt Carter, who was then Labour's general secretary, wrote to the lenders emphasising that the in terest rate on the loan "can be considered as a commercial rate of interest. Accordingly, the loan will not give rise to any reportable donation within the meaning of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act." This letter has been shown to the police. It may seem technical, but if the loans were not genuinely commercial, then the 2000 act was broken. Bairoliya told the programme: "I wouldn't say that they are commercial as I understand the term commercial. It's a bit like one of my friends is in difficulty and you wanted to help them out: you might give them a loan and not charge them the full rate." Asked what rate he would expect, Bairoliya said: "If someone did agree to give you a loan, they would expect to have a return which was in proportion to the risk they were taking. In this case they would judge the risk fairly high and they would require a margin of at least 4 or 5 per cent above base." By this calculation, Labour should have been charged between 8.75 and 9.75 per cent interest"...

"According to my Labour Party source, who is at the highest level of the party structure and perfectly placed to know, at least some of these loans were never intended to be paid back. According to this individual, they were never loans at all but purely and simply secret donations. And has my source told the police? You bet.

That last bit will send a shiver down the collective back of all three parties. Who is Bright's source? Well if it is who I think it is, Tony Blair should be a worried man. Very worried indeed.


Tapestry said...

As I understand it, the law that made donations illegal permitted donations as long as the donor's name was not kept secret. It was only secret donations that were made illegal.

If so Blair's donors would surely have a defence either on the basis that the money transferred was intended to be a loan. If the transfer is held subsequently not to be a loan, but a donation, they would presumably only have had to reveal their names for the donation to become legal.

Against the accusation that they kept the donation secret, they could plead that they believed the donation was to be categorised as a loan and they acted as they did believing they were not breaking the law. I cannot see that it would easy to get any convictions.

As for Blair, he could say that if the transfers of money to him were not illegal, in the sense that the donors cannot be convicted for making the donations/loans, he was justified in accepting them.

He cannot easily be accused of encouraging them to break the law if they did not.

It would be a bit tortuous to have to defend himself to these accusations, but he'd face a lot less than Clinton had to. I'm sure it's all just calculated to put pressure on him to get his agreement to retire a bit earlier.

Anonymous said...

I don't think so, Deep Stoat. He is loathed by large numbers of people - many of them Labour backbenchers and many people not in the public eye but in the know.

The police have all Levy's computers. Those who gave the loans don't want to go to prison, and they also don't want to look as though they came by their peerages dishonestly. (Although they did.)

In other words, there is quite a little community of people who will talk. I am not giving up hope of seeing Blair do the Perp Walk.

Anonymous said...

As for a source... how about Jack Dromey?

Anonymous said...

My source in NSY says in the canteen he has heard there is "alot of pressure not to arrest the PM" at the moment - and there is talk of cautioning a senior legal figure.

Anonymous said...

Senior legal figure? Not Peter Goldsmith, surely - he's being kept fully informed of the progress of the investigation - or at least that's what his office is briefing the Observer.

Anonymous said...

Why is there a lot of pressure not to arrest Tone? Who is applying the pressure?

Is this legal, not to arrest someone who the police have reason to suspect has committed a crime?

Anonymous said...

Verity - Law requires that there is both reasonable suspicion and necessity before powers of arrest are used. The Home Office clarifies this:

"The criteria are that the arrest is necessary:
(a) to enable the name of the person in question to be ascertained (in the case
where the constable does not know, and cannot readily ascertain, the person’s
name, or has reasonable grounds for doubting whether a name given by the
person as his name is his real name)
(b) correspondingly as regards the person’s address
an address is a satisfactory address for service of summons if the person will be at it
for a sufficiently long period for it to be possible to serve him or her with a summons;
or, that some other person at that address specified by the person will accept service
of the summons on their behalf.
(c) to prevent the person in question –
(i) causing physical injury to himself or any other person;
(ii) suffering physical injury ;
(iii) causing loss or damage to property;
(iv) committing an offence against public decency (only applies where
members of the public going about their normal business cannot
reasonably be expected to avoid the person in question); or
(v) causing an unlawful obstruction of the highway;
(d) to protect a child or other vulnerable person from the person in question
(e) to allow the prompt and effective investigation of the offence or of the conduct
of the person in question.

This may include cases such as:
(i) Where there are reasonable grounds to believe that the person:
• has made false statements;
• has made statements which cannot be readily verified;
• has presented false evidence;
• may steal or destroy evidence;
• may make contact with co-suspects or conspirators;
• may intimidate or threaten or make contact with witnesses;
Codes of practice – Code G Statutory power of arrest by police officers
• where it is necessary to obtain evidence by questioning..."

This does, of course, raise the question of which category Michael Levy falls under, or for that matter Des Smith and Sir Christopher Evans.

Anonymous said...

On second thoughts, if nothing else they could use the may make contact with co-suspects line.

Anonymous said...

acm - Thank you. But, if I understand it correct, they wouldn't have to arrest someone for murder as long as they didn't suspect he was going to do it again?

Anonymous said...

Bliar won't get arrested and won't be done for anything, though they may wish to talk to him, but are we going to get to know about it? Not on your life.

Whether or not these were illegal donations or loans, or not, is irrelevant; this is about whether the money was meant to be payment in kind or in substance for a peerage, and that is the basis of the investigation and possible charges.

I think there will be many heads rolling, and maybe Bliars on an outside chance, but not because the evidence is there. We have all these high faluting people, like Levy and Evans, who find themselves sitting in an interview room being questioned under caution...and this isn't Hollywood where the high flying businessman sits arrogantly sneering at the lowly copper...and they will be literally shitting themselves. THEY WILL TALK and implicate others, who will also talk and so the whole ball will roll, and that is also why the investigation is taking longer.

Bliar is on his way out, along with others with him, and they have less gravitas with the powers of law that ever they have had.

Anonymous said...

Fine. But I want to see him brought low. And his overweening wife who wanted to apply, by force, her thinking on the British people. I want to see them brought low.

Tapestry said...

I know cash for peerages is illegal, but isn't it common knowledge that it goes on as a practice and has done ever since? If Blair is hounded from office using this method, he will appear as a martyr - and those who manipulate the Police, i.e. Prescott working in alliance with Brown to get rid of Blair, will be despised for turning against their former leader in this way.

It's Watson style plotting of a far more devious nature. Blair will play it for all it's worth and pick up a lot of sympathy, I would think.

There's no point in extending too mch sympathy to the old rogue. He can hang with pleasure, but if Prescott and Brown are so powerful that they can use such tactics and get away with it, that is indeed very concerning. The fact that the Police were somehow able to accuse Cherie of Child Abuse as they did is appalling. I know it's her own fault as she pushed for all these human rights laws in the first place, but the Police appear to be being used to harrass the Prime Minister from office.

That is of great concern to the idea of democracy and liberty.

If New labour were an alliance between the naive, the corrupt and the power-crazed, I would put Brown as the latter, Prescott as the corrupt, and still somehow see Blair as naive and a flawed character, rather than outright evil.

Anonymous said...

Given past events, it will be interesting to watch the Tory fundraisers come up with Plan B if anyone should actually go to prison for Cash for Peerages. Back in the day under the Tories the Tatler said the going rate was three million.

Anonymous said...

tapestry - You are wrong. Of the three of them, Blair reeks of sheer evil. I came home from overseas to see my mother - it was before he was actually elected - and that was the first time I'd ever seen him. The sense of sheer evil I got off him on the TV screen was almost like a physical assault.

I subsequently met other people who got a feeling of deep evil off him. Not incompetence. Not just arrogance, although that is certainly a large part of his make-up, but utter destructiveness. And he has indeed destroyed out civil society, the educational system, our Constitution, our Bill of Rights, our liberty to speak as we will, our liberty to have an opinion other than the Little Father's opinion. This man has destroyed the rights of 60m people and has done his best to destroy the make-up of Britain.

Anonymous said...


Sure it went on in a way, but not as a direct 'give us a million, and you will be enobled' like BLiar and Labour have done.

In the past we had people of REAL substance, who also happened to be big donors to the parties, but they were people of substance who had made their money and success BEFORE they screwed the Government over for contracts.

That's the difference, and it is a wholly significant one; New Labour/Bliar SELLS peerages to the highest bidder whoever they are, previous Governments GAVE peerages to friends.