Michael Howard quizzed in honours probe

Now why would Michael Howard (former QC and very far from being a fool) take to the airwaves to announce that he has been quizzed by police?

Is the questioning of another political party leader imminent? :twisted:


Former Conservative leader Michael Howard has said he has been questioned by Scotland Yard as part of the cash-for-honours investigation.
He said he agreed to the police request for an interview and they stressed that he was "not under suspicion of having committed any offence".

About a dozen people are believed to have been questioned by police so far, with three arrests made.

All of those detained have denied any wrongdoing in relation to honours.

In a statement on Monday, Mr Howard said: "In response to a request from the police, I agreed to be interviewed by them in connection with their inquiries into nominations for peerages.

"The police emphasised that they wanted to interview me as a witness and that I was not under suspicion of having committed any criminal offence.

"The interview was not conducted under caution. It took place this morning at my home in London," he said.

A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: "A number of people have been interviewed during the course of the inquiry."

The investigation is looking into whether peerages were offered in exchange for cash, after it was revealed that all three main parties were given secret loans ahead of the last election.

Those arrested were Labour's chief fundraiser Lord Levy, the millionaire head of Biotech, Sir Christopher Evans, and head teacher Des Smith, who was on the council of the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust.

The probe began after it emerged that four businessmen who gave Labour £4.5m in unpublicised loans were subsequently nominated for peerages.

The scope of the inquiry was extended to cover similar allegations involving the Tories.

The party borrowed £16m from 13 wealthy backers.
Now wiping tea off my screen :D
According to the Guido Fawkes blog, a certain Jonathan Powell is thought to have been interviewed under caution. The PMOS (photo below) tied himself in knots trying to avoid giving a straight answer to a straight question.

We know who is next to be quizzed. :twisted:

I agree that Bliar is unlikely to be charged ( :x ) but his closest minions are in grave danger and that may well make his position untenable (sleaziest PM since Lloyd George, who had better luck with his war).

Asked if anyone in Downing Street had been questioned by police about cash for peerages, the Prime Minister's Official Spokesman (PMOS) replied that nothing had changed.

Asked if we had a reaction to the fact that Michael Howard had been interviewed, the PMOS said it was a good try, but no.

Asked by the Evening Standard if Jonathan Powell had been questioned, the PMOS said that all along, he had said that he would only talk about the Prime Minister, and nobody else. However, people should not get too excited.

Asked again if nobody in Downing Street had been questioned, the PMOS replied that nothing had changed, and he had set right from the start, very clear rules about what he would and would not talk about. Therefore, what the PMOS said that he would not talk about was anybody else in Downing Street, apart from the Prime Minister. However, he had said very carefully to the Evening Standard that they should not get too excited.

Asked why the PMOS would only talk about the Prime Minister, and not others in No10, the PMOS said that he did not talk about civil servants or Special Advisors.

Asked if people should therefore go to the Cabinet Office for information, the PMOS replied that if people wanted to waste their time, then they could, but the Cabinet Office would adopt the same approach. The PMOS said that no other department would talk about civil servants or Special Advisors either, but it was a police investigation.

Asked what the Prime Minister's frame of mind was about the investigation, the PMOS said that it was very straightforward; it was a police investigation, and it was up to police how they investigated it.

Asked if there had been any calls from the police to make an appointment, the PMOS said again that nothing had changed.

Asked if there had been any request from the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) for the Prime Minister to give evidence, the PMOS said that he was not aware of anything, but it would be matter for the PAC to talk about.

Sven said:
If Labour minions are to be charged then so are Tories and Lib Dems.

I personally see this as going nowhere
Sven, you must be gutted to realise that this is gaining momentum and Dear Tony will be getting an assist on exit!
If Labour minions are to be charged then so are Tories and Lib Dems.

I personally see this as going nowhere
The essential difference is that, whereas the Tories and Lib Dems may well have desired cash (or loans) in return for peerages, the only party in a position to directly benefit from such an exchange is the party in power. We all know who has ultimate approval over ennoblement of benefactors, sorry worthy individuals. Interestingly, the party is so replete it has apparently sent out a mailshot without bothering to pay for the postage....

According to the Times, Jonathan Powell has been quizzed twice!


Cash-for-honours inquiry closes in on Blair's adviser
By Rajeev Syal and Sean O'Neill

THE Prime Minister’s closest political adviser is to be interviewed for a second time by police investigating the cash-for-honours allegations, The Times has learnt.

Jonathan Powell, No 10’s chief of staff, was first interviewed early in the six-month Scotland Yard inquiry.

Police are planning to speak to him again as they try to discover whether millionaires who gave secret loans to the Labour Party were offered peerages in return.

The move is a sign that the investigation is focusing on the activities of Tony Blair and his closest allies.

It will increase speculation that the police are just days away from interviewing Mr Blair himself.

Mr Powell is likely to be asked about e-mails and documents that discussed which Labour lenders might be placed on a list to be submitted to the House of Lords Appointments Commission.

The documents emerged from police searches of Downing Street offices and the homes of millionaire donors.

It is understood that files sent to the CPS indicate that those within Mr Blair’s inner circle were aware of the loans and of the offers of honours.

Mr Powell, 50, was interviewed early in the police investigation before the e-mails were discovered, a senior Labour source confirmed.

He is Mr Blair’s longest- serving political adviser, having been at his side since 1995, the year after he became Labour Party leader.

Known for his work behind the scenes, he is often spotted at the Prime Minister’s side but has escaped the scrutiny experienced by Alastair Campbell, Mr Blair’s former press secretary.

He has spoken to at least two Labour lenders, according to inquiries by this newspaper.

A former diplomat, Mr Powell was given the power to issue orders to civil servants by a Privy Council order in 1997. He has direct responsibility for leading and co-ordinating operations within No 10 and reports to the Prime Minister.

The police investigation began after it emerged that four businessmen who gave the Labour Party £4.5 million in hidden loans were subsequently nominated for peerages.

The scope of the inquiry was extended to include similar allegations against the Tories, who had borrowed £16 million from 13 wealthy backers.

Three people have been arrested so far as part of the investigation.

Lord Levy, Mr Blair’s personal fundraiser, and Des Smith, a Government adviser, were arrested over the summer. The Times revealed last month that Sir Christopher Evans, the biotech tycoon, was the first Labour donor to be arrested.

Ruth Turner, Downing Street’s director of government relations, was interviewed by police last month hours after Sir Christopher was arrested.

She is one of 14 people to have been interviewed under caution as part of the inquiry, and one of more than 50 who have been questioned.

All of those concerned with the inquiry have denied any wrongdoing and nobody has yet been charged.

Michael Howard, the former Conservative Party leader, was interviewed on Monday.

A prosecution source has told this newspaper that Mr Howard’s role in the investigation is “negligible”.

The police investigation is considering whether party officials or donors have breached the The Honours (Prevention of Abuses) Act 1925, which makes it an offence to take money as an “inducement or reward” for procuring an honour for someone else.

They are also considering the Political Parties, Elections and Referendum Act 2000, which restricts the sources of donations to political parties and makes it an offence to evade those restrictions.

The senior prosecution lawyer reviewing the evidence in the case told The Times that she had received three interim submissions of evidence from police investigating the allegations.

Carmen Dowd, head of the Crown Prosecution Service Special Crime Division, said that the most recent set of files was delivered to her last week.

“We are giving ongoing advice to the police and will continue to do so until the final submission which we hope to receive before Christmas” she said.

“We won’t be in a position to review the case until all the evidence is collated. When the full file of evidence comes in I will be reviewing it and considering any charges that might be disclosed by that,” she added.
Who will be the b!tch - Powell or Levy? They can take turns! :twisted:

Jonathan Powell - "Finger Fcuker"
"Lord" Levy - "The Receptacle"

Sven said:
If Labour minions are to be charged then so are Tories and Lib Dems.
Why "minions" Sven? The people ALREADY arrested and/or under investigation are hardly minions. Indeed, they are quite large fish. I doubt Lord Levy would be too impressed with the tag "minion", do you? Are you suggesting that guilt is evident, and it's now just a 'game' to see how high they have to go to find a sacrificial scapegoat?

And why, please tell, should Tories and Lib Dems be similarly charged? Are you trying to suggest they have received some of the Labour 'loans' as backhanders.

It may well be that Tory and Lib Dems received 'loans' which were in fact 'donations' that they were trying to 'hide'. However, that is a matter for the PSC not the Met. Labour grandees are being quizzed on a possible criminal charge, not malpractice of 'standards'.

Sven said:
I personally see this as going nowhere
The police seem to think different.

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