Friday, November 17, 2006

Cash for peerages This weeks roundup

This has all been covered elsewhere but:

There seem to have been two interesting developments. Firstly Guido unearthed this letter from Yates of the Yard to Dr. Tony Wright of the Public Administration Select Committee. It appears to have been leaked AFTER Yates sent it. The MSM have now picked up and run with Guido's scoop, though I do not recall him being given any credit for it.

Then we have the Telegraph saying that Tony Blair is going to use the Abu Hamza Defence to get out of this mess alleging that he has been tried by media and unfair leaks. The article is here. Iain Dales says this, whilst Guido has this.

Interestingly enough in Yates letter he makes it clear that he is confident that his lot are not leaking, and those leaks are coming from elsewhere. He also says that he knows it is not his lot because there is much significant material that has not been leaked.

Guido makes much here of this reported labour NEC meeting where Ann Black says Tony Blair asked for loans because donors would not give for fear of being lambasted in the press, and wanted to stay anonymous. Guido and the Evening Standard point out that Labour donors did not want to remain anonymous, they offered donations first but were turned down in favour of loans.

Guido then quotes the relevant part of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000, which says that covering up donations is a very naughty thing to do.

So what do we know so far?

Well Yates of the yard is investigating possible offences under The Honours, Prevention of Abuses Act 1925 and the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 but only in relation to 2005.

He appears to have uncovered significant material. He hopes to be able to pass the file to the CPS in January 2007, provided that he gets cooperation from those involved and his investigations do not end up leading elsewhere.

He has interviewed 90 people so far.
35 in the Labour Party,
29 in the Conservative party
4 in the Liberal Democrats
22 people not in a party.

He has sent letters to ministers to stop any last minute Burrell type interventions (that is where some one remembers something at the last minute that exonerates someone). See here for more info.

Whilst lots of people have said there will be nothing to find, clearly if the Abu Hamza defence story is correct then Tony Blair is becoming very worried.

We also know that Labour donors were happy to donate and publicly too. It appears it was the fund raisers who did not want donation information getting out.

You can read more articles on cash for peerages here.

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