Sunday, March 11, 2007

Cash for Peerages, Has the Sunday Times got something?

The Sunday Times has this article, with the headline "Blair aides ‘plotted’ to foil police". It seems that the attempt to foil the police was not the latest leak (See here and here), on which Fraser Nelson has some interesting insight in this article in the Spectator, but the overall nature of Number 10's staff cooperation with the police inquiry.

Fraser speculates in his article that maybe staff at Number 10 are turning on themselves.

The Sunday Times is somewhat more forthright.

Firstly it alleges that Lord Levy tried to get other staff to lie over his involvement in recommending people for honours. As I have made clear in a previous article here, Lord Levy recommending someone for an honour is not legally an issue, and he need not have been worried about the police knowing that. Unless, which I will come to later.

The allegation that Lord levy tried to get people to lie to the police is a very serious one. I do hope the Sunday Times have good evidence to back up their claim. I know that Lord Levy's lawyers at Bindman partners read this blog, I suspect they will take the Sunday Times somewhat more seriously.

In short, if there is not a writ for libel issued against the Sunday Times by say, Tuesday of next week, things are looking bad for Lord Levy. Of course if they just spout the Abu Hamza defence again we will all draw our own conclusions.

The other key point raised is the potential for charges under the 1925 Honours, Prevention of abuses act against Lord Levy and Sir Christopher Evans.

I must stress that this is a remarkably easy crime to avoid. In order to make out the offence there needs to be evidence of a bargain being struck (Well we do have that P or K note).

I do not know how much of the article is speculation. What is clear is that the Sunday Times can't go around boldly asserting that Lord Levy asked people to lie to the police on his behalf without some evidence, otherwise they will get sued.

Oh, and at the bottom of the article there is a bit on how government wants to merge all the watchdogs that have given it such pain into one big one. No doubt this will cause some concern. On the upside the new body will be entirely responsible to parliament, not to the Prime minister.

You can read more on the cash for peerages saga here.

Hat tip to Witan on for the link to the Sunday Times article.

Update 10:20

The Independent on Sunday has this article which says that Lord Levy feels let down and may "turn on Labour". That would be one of the canaries singing and could deepen the crisis. I have always suspected that if the police had enough to charge someone then that someone would suddenly become very cooperative. I wait with baited breath!

It also has this little nugget at the end of the piece:
A senior figure close to the probe said the issue of whether both main political parties broke the law by hiding donations as "loans" was still "live".
Well we have not heard much about offences under the 2000 Political Parties, Elections and Referendum act recently but I certainly think it could be fertile ground for the police investigation.

Hat tip to Dez on for pointing it out.


CityUnslicker said...

It certainly seems as if this is set for a nice big denoument though.

However, what do you think will be the result Benedict?

I am not sure it will benefit any of us at all. I will post my musings on this later, but thank you for your well written article.

Benedict White said...

CityUnslicker, A nice big denouncement., the question is who does it to whom?

Personally, assuming the police have more than the media (which I certainly hope is the case) I expect charges against up to 3 people. I also expect that to yield more information for the police and another spurt of an investigation possibly leading to more charges.

It won't benefit politics at all that is true, however best get it done to clear the air!

Thanks for the compliment though! Let me know when you have posted your article.

James Higham said...

"Blair aides ‘plotted’ to foil police". It seems that the attempt to foil the police was not the latest leak ...

I'm certain that the whole business is all about crucifying the Lords, as has just happened.

Benedict White said...

James, yes quite possibly. I would not put anything past this lot!

Anonymous said...

Read that Yates of the Yard is going to publish his investigation anyways,if the CPS fail to prosecute.
Don`t know how legal this is, but it would leak anyways and the MP`S are doing their own investigation.
Looks like reputations on all involved are at stake including the police.

Shades said...

I wish they'd just get on with it and bang the buggers up. I'm getting repetitive stress injury shifting by Bubbly between the Fridge and the Wine Rack...

Benedict White said...

Dez, Yes that is my understanding and yes I agree with your latter statement. This is not good for the political process. The only thing worse would be not having doen the investigation.

Ian. LOL!

I wonder who you can sue for that?