“Greater love than this hath no man, that he lay down his friends for his life“ – Jeremy Thorpe speaking of Harold Macmillan’s 1962 Night of the Long Knives when he sacked most of the senior members of his cabinet to save his political career.
The Times is reporting that three of the people questioned by the police in the cash for honours scandal are likely to face charges. This must mean that the police investigation is drawing to a close and we’ll soon be waiting to hear what the Crown Prosecution Service has to say. It appears that someone questioned by the police has been singing like a canary.
Crown Prosecution Service lawyers have received files from the police indicating that charges should be brought against three people, although the inquiry is continuing.
“I would be very surprised if they are not charged,” a prosecution source told The Times. The same source said that Tony Blair was likely to be interviewed by the police for a third time because he had yet to answer certain questions.
So who are the people who are likely to be charged? It would seem on the face of it that Tony Blair might escape prosecution and it will be his minions that will carry the can for the Right Honourable Gentleman. Obviously Lord Levy is top of the list as he’s been arrested twice so far. Naturally he’s still protesting his innocence and has once again said that he will not swing for Tony Blair.
Tony Blair’s chief fund-raiser Lord Levy is ready to tell the police that the Prime Minister is to blame for the cash-for-peerages scandal.
The Labour peer is furious that he has become the prime suspect.
And he is ready to defend himself by arguing that Mr Blair, not him, should be made to take full responsibility for the affair.
This is at least the second time Lord Levy has stated that he won’t be the fall guy for Tony. To be fair to him he does have a point. Only the Prime Minister can bestow honours on people. But it does seem that the noble lord is in it up to his neck, and let’s not forget that the second time he was arrested it was in connection to a potential cover-up. Perverting the cause of justice is a far more serious crime.
Ruth Turner, Downing Street’s director of government relations is also in the frame following her recent arrest (again on suspicion of perverting the cause of justice). This means that her boss, Jonathan Powell, Tony Blair’s chief of staff might also face further questioning and possible arrest. So who has been spilling the beans? Well it seems possible that it might be Tony Blair’s director of political operations John McTernan. Back to the Times article:
A CPS source said that the case had been strengthened by the testimony of John McTernan, the Prime Minister’s director of political operations, who gave a different account of discussions about honours from that given by other Downing Street figures questioned.
Oh dear, perhaps it was this that has re ignited what was beginning to look like a moribund inquiry. The Government has in recent days pulled out all the stops in trying to deflect attention from this investigation and create the impression that it was going nowhere after 11 months. We’ve had MPs and Cabinet Ministers as well as peers either coming out against the investigation or insisting that Blair should stay on as Prime Minister and friendly ‘journalists’ also saying to the police in effect “shit or get off the pot“. We’ve had anonymous leaks in the case of the alleged plot in Birmingham which some police suspect may be politically motivated. If all this sounds like desperation, it probably is. Tony Blair is not out of the woods yet. There is already speculation that he might be questioned for a third time by police, perhaps under caution. Even if he himself is not charged, he will be very badly damaged if his closest members of staff are charged. This might mean that he will be visited by the dreaded men in grey suits.
It is starting to look like Blair won’t be able to hang on until the summer as he intends to. The irony is that it will be a scandal which is relatively trivial in comparison with the far more serious crimes committed in Iraq which forces him out. But then Al Capone was caught out on tax evasion rather than his violence and racketeering.
Tags: Blair, Lord Levy, Cash For Honours, Sleaze