The Nether-World

March 6, 2007

Sleaze In America – Sleaze In Britain

Filed under: Cash for Honours, Lord Levy, Nu Labour, Sleaze, US Politics — netherworld @ 7:22 pm

Two sleaze stories today, one from each side of the Atlantic. First, in the USA Lewis “Scooter” Libby, the former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, has been found guilty of obstruction of justice and perjury. When he is sentenced in June, he faces up to 25 years in prison.

He was accused of lying to the FBI and a grand jury over revelations about CIA agent Valerie Plame’s identity.

Libby’s lawyer said they were “very disappointed” at the verdict, and would ask for a new trial, or would appeal.

Libby was found guilty on four out of five counts. He was acquitted on one count of lying to the FBI.

I haven’t blogged much about this case but the BBC has an at-a-glance article about the trial and also other links to the background of this story for those who are unfamiliar with it. In short, it concerns the leaking of the identity of a CIA agent, Valerie Plame whose husband, Joseph Wilson displeased the Bush administration by disputing Bush’s claim that Iraq had tried to buy nuclear material from Niger. The trial itself, however, is about the cover-up (isn’t it always?). More updates on this can be found at Firedoglake and Iain Dale has a report. too.

Over in Britain, the sleaze story is the on-going saga of the cash for peerages scandal. The story all week has concerned a document (not an e-mail apparently) and an injunction placed on the BBC to prevent them revealing who sent it, who it was for and what it was about. This was a request by the police. The injunction was partially lifted yesterday so it could be revealed who sent it to who but not much else. Today the whole injunction was lifted revealing what most observers suspected anyway, namely that this document was written by Ruth Turner to her boss Jonathan Powell and it concerned Lord Levy whose position is now looking more precarious than ever.

There has been much speculation as to whether it was Downing Street that leaked the details in order to prejudice any trial. This is, of course, vigorously denied. After calling his arrests and the police behaviour “theatrical”, Lord Levy is now demonstrating his own skills in theatrics as he denounced the “prejudiced and distorted view” of the cash-for-honours affair presented by leaks to the media and played to the gallery by appalling for public sympathy. It is possible that Ruth Turner was concerned that Lord Levy was asking her to alter her evidence, something Levy denies. If true this opens the way for charges of perverting the cause of justice (again, it’s the cover-up rather than the original crime). The Guardian defied the injunction and broke the story which has caused the row as to who is doing the leaking in this case. Lord Levy blames the police, and everyone else seem to be blaming Lord Levy or Downing Street.

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