After Levy’s Office Fire, Matt Carter’s Office Tragedy

Matt Carter, the former general secretary of the Labour party, was responsible for organising the delivery of Labour’s successful 2005 general election campaign and is currently the managing director of the London office of Penn, Schoen and Berland Associates.

Presumably it was Matt Carter who authorised the £500,000+ payment for the slogan “Forward, not back” to the same Penn, Schoen and Berland Associates in the run-up to the election. Shortly after the election he joined Penn’s polling organisation in the UK. Typical feather-bedding by a politician at other people’s expense – nothing special.

It was Carter of course who wrote to rich wannabee peers telling them that any loans would not have to be declared. It was Carter who drew up the “commercial loan agreements” which Labour is now unable to re-pay. Obviously his letters, emails and agreement documents are of particular interest to Yates of the Yard and the investigators from Operation Ribble.

He is at the heart of the “cash for peerages” and is expected by many in Westminster to be the fall guy for Blair and Levy’s scam. So it is tragic that he has had four laptop computers stolen from his office in London.

According to the Sunday Herald:

The theft from the Bloomsbury offices of Penn, Schoen & Berland, the Washington DC-headquartered consultancy where Matt Carter is managing director, was reported to police in Holborn on October 9. It is not known what data was kept on the stolen computers.

He was one of only three people said to know the full details of secret loans worth GBP14 million made to the party. The others were Tony Blair and Lord Levy, Labour’s most high-profile fundraiser.

Officers at London’s Holborn police station revealed details of the theft from Carter’s office… The four computers went missing over the weekend prior to October 9… Carter’s office is only one of a number of subsidiary firms owned by the international WPP agency which share an address at 24-28 Bloomsbury Way. Only Carter’s office reported a theft. No other firm at the address reported anything missing, according to the police file..

Carter has made no formal admission that he has been questioned by Yates’s team, but sources close to the investigation maintain he has been questioned on “more than one occasion” on what he knew of the GBP14m raised by Labour from private backers before the last general election.

Yates’ team is known to be using the same software and equipment that the FBI uses to recover deleted data from hard-disks. It is not clear if the lap-tops had already been examined by the police in the way that the computers of Sleazy Levy and Des Smith have been. Following on from Levy’s office fire Guido worries for the offices in Downing Street.

Levy Makes An Admission

Martin Bright has been all over the Loans for Lordships story. In this week’s New Statesman he recounts a recent conversation he had with the Sleaze-Master General himself.
The exchange took place at this year’s Labour Party conference during a reception hosted by the GuardianObserver, where Levy took it upon himself to act as an unofficial “meeter and greeter”.

Levy and I started talking, particularly about a Channel 4 Dispatches documentary on the “cash for honours” affair which I had presented and had been broadcast that same night.

Levy was his legendary charming self. Disarmingly, he told me that his wife had watched the programme and found it very fair. I was delighted, but said there was one matter I felt I had to raise with him. What did he make of the general point I made in the programme: that the loans from wealthy party supporters were not intended as loans, but were to be converted into donations?

He gripped my arm like a long-lost friend and said, by way of answer: “Only some of them.” I asked him what he meant and whether he could point to any specific loans. He volunteered the name of Lord Sainsbury, the billionaire former science minister who had lent the party £2m.

The point is that large donations, under this government’s own legislation, had to be declared, but loans did not. So what exactly was Levy saying to me? Did he misunderstand my original question? That is possible, but he had gone on to give me an example. Was he joking? Again possibly, but it’s an odd matter to joke about. Or was he merely expressing his hope that the loans would be converted into donations?

Guido thinks that this is an admission of some guilt. If Sainsbury’s loan wasn’t really a loan and the intention was always to turn into a donation at some point, that is an offence. A false loan which disguises a donation is surely an evasion of the legally required reporting of donations under the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000?

UPDATE : According to an impeccable source who has just emailed me, the Yard’s attention has been drawn to the Martin Bright story in this week’s New Statesman.

Blair Confessed to Offence of Loans for Lordships

If Ann Black’s report of Blair’s remarks to the March 2006 NEC meeting is verified (Blair said the donors “preferred the confidentiality” of a loan) Blair is in deep trouble. He made the remarks before the police investigation started. According to Ann Black –
“Tony Blair said that he understood members’ concerns and took full responsibility for everything done in the name of the party. Anyone giving to Labour was trashed in the media and so potential donors preferred the confidentiality of a loan.”

The cynics at the Evening Standard didn’t believe the Blair spin. They contacted donors to find out if they really demanded confidentiality – the donors denied it. So it seems the loans scheme was an initiative of Downing Street to hide the identity of donors in defiance of laws his own government introduced to make party funding more transparent. It wasn’t because the donors preferred not to be trashed in the media, it was because Blair didn’t want people to see the blatant disregard for the law his peddling of peerages* showed. Give a million to Labour, get a peerage. It looked bad, the link was too obvious. Give a “loan” and no declaration had to be made, no one need know about it apart from a few Downing Street insiders. When donors got their peerage no money would have have been seen to change hands, apart from a worthy donation to an Academy School perhaps. Some time later that loan to the Labour party could be quietly written off and converted into a declared donation. Well the donor is a Labour peer now, they would give money to their party, wouldn’t they?

The Standard says Sir David Garrard and Barry Townsley would have been happy to be named. They claim the only reason the arrangement was kept silent was because the letter confirming the loans stated: “You do not need to disclose this.”

It is already known that property developer Sir David, who lent Labour £2.3million, and stockbroker Townsley, who lent the party £1million, were both nominated by Blair for peerages. Chai Patel has said he offered £1.5million as a donation but was told by Sleazy Levy that Labour would prefer the money as a loan. He was later nominated for a peerage. Sir Gulam, who lent Labour £250,000, also offered a donation but was advised to make a loan. “My position is that I was very happy to contribute as a donation but that I was asked to give a loan”.

Combined with the above denials by donors that it was their idea to disguise donations as loans, what Blair told the NEC is an admission of guilt, he would be guilty of an offence in disguising a donation as a loan. Expect Ann Black’s account of the March 2006 NEC meeting to be trashed by Downing Street.

Blair says he accepts full responsibility for the Loans for Lordships scam, if Ann Black is telling the truth he and others in Downing Street are open to being charged under Part 4 of the PPER Act 2000:

Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000


Evasion of restrictions on donations
Offences concerned with evasion of restrictions on donations. 61. – (1) A person commits an offence if he-

(a) knowingly enters into, or

(b) knowingly does any act in furtherance of,

any arrangement which facilitates or is likely to facilitate, whether by means of any concealment or disguise or otherwise, the making of donations to a registered party by any person or body other than a permissible donor. (2) A person commits an offence if-

(a) he knowingly gives the treasurer of a registered party any information relating to-

(i) the amount of any donation made to the party, or

(ii) the person or body making such a donation,

which is false in a material particular; or

(b) with intent to deceive, he withholds from the treasurer of a registered party any material information relating to a matter within paragraph (a)(i) or (ii).

Guido is often asked does he really believe that Tony Blair will face charges? If Ann Black’s account is accurate it amounts to an admission of guilt, the treasurer is on the record as saying he was kept in the dark about the loans. How can Blair not have a case to answer?

*Blair has created an unprecedented 292 peers.

What Was Sainsbury Implying?

Co-conspirator Mirthios points out in the comments this parting gem from Lord Sainsbury :
“I have had a peerage for eight or nine years, so there is no question of buying a peerage.”

Is he saying he got his before Lord Levy started stacking ’em high and selling ’em cheap?

Cash for Peerages : "The Fix" is Falling Apart

Guido has long believed that Lord Levy and others would face trial. That opinion was until recently very much a minority opinion, as late as this spring Nick Robinson and Michael White were telling us that the police would only go through the motions and nothing would come of it. Only two months ago the Observer told us that the investigation was over and the CPS had found nothing. A fortnight ago Nigel Griffiths, deputy-leader of the House of Commons said he understood that the CPS had found no evidence and it was all over. It ain’t over yet.

Labour sources have gone from believing “it will all blow over” to an unspoken group-think that they would spin their way out of it, to now hoping they can quash the CPS. There is a realisation that this is now the last chance to stop charges.

You can’t spin a detective easily, every criminal claims he is innocent, but coppers, unlike some of our finest political journalists, work on the assumption that their interviewee is a lying wrong ‘un.

The CPS is Downing Street’s last hope. Nigel Griffith’s bit of wishful thinking spoken aloud on air was the premature hope of the guilty party. To the frustration of the attorney general, the police have not given the CPS much of substance yet because they don’t trust the political independence of the CPS. They will give the CPS the full goods only when the investigation is complete and they are sure that they “will be taking the case to the Old Bailey“. Be assured that is the intention of the police.

Don’t pay any attention to the spin from New Labour – they are shitting themselves. “The Fix” is falling apart. Inside the CPS they are not happy at it being taken for granted that they will be a patsy for Downing Street.

Look at the arse-covering manoeuvres going on in certain quarters – a sure sign that those in the know, know “The Fix” is not in. Sir Ian Blair, our most politicised policeman has taken himself out of the decision making – citing his relationship with the PM. Ken MacDonald, the Director of Public Prosecutions, has done the same. The CPS has turned outside its own ranks to David Perry QC to advise. That leaves only the attorney general, Lord Goldsmith, batting for Blair. It is up to the political classes to see to it that he is prevented from quashing charges or just plain interfering. This discredited lawyer (his flip-flop advice over the legal basis for Iraq was made at Blair’s bidding) should not be permitted to block the course of justice. Shadow Home Secretary David Davis and the Shadow Attorney General Dominic Grieve have Goldsmith in their sights.

Downing Street is not going to be allowed to whitewash this…

Operation Ribble Update

Guido understands that soon Detective Superintendent Graham McNulty is likely to be saying the words:

“Anthony Charles Lynton Blair you do not have to say anything. But it may harm your defence if you do not mention when questioned something which you later rely on in court. Anything you do say may be given in evidence.”

UPDATE : A number of mongs seem to misunderstand. He is going to be interviewed under caution. Calm down.

Levy’s Consolation Prize

The was a touching scene the night before last in Albert Square, Manchester. Lord Levy was consoling a very worried man. Sleazy Levy had one hand on the man’s shoulder and the other gripping his elbow as a taxi waited. They must have had the meter on the taxi running for ages since they were having a very animated discussion about something. Levy was quite chipper whereas his friend was disgruntled and worried. “Don’t worry; it’ll all be all right; don’t worry” Levy assured the troubled man.

So far nothing that you have not read already on Iain Dale’s blog earlier. Guido believes that the weepy man was none other than Nick Bowes, formerly the Labour Party’s Head of High Value Fundraising. Nick is a reader of this blog from his desk at the metal bashers and widget makers trade association the EEF, he is up in Manchester on their behalf.

Guido has emailed Nick to corroborate this piece but has as yet no reply to his questions. Let us hope the detectives got more answers out of him…

See also here and here.

UPDATED : Yard Investigation Will Last Until Christmas

According to an impeccable source the Scotland Yard investigation into Labour’s Loans for Lordships will not finish next month as Yates intimated to the Public Affairs Select Committee in July. It is set to drag on until the end of the year. The source emphasised that whether Blair is still in office or not is irrelevant, this is a criminal investigation.

The delay will not make the issue vanish for the Labour party, since on the eve of their conference Channel 4’s Dispatches will be broadcasting a documentary special on Levy’s shenanigans.

Those of you playing Sleazy Sweepstakes in Downing Street can sweat a bit longer. The rest of you playing should try to figure out who the chap is in the middle to the right of the already arrested Sleazy Levy and Des Smith. If you have drawn him you could be lucky next….
Email Guido for a PDF file to print out, then cut out and play Sleazy Sweepstakes in your office (Peerages not included.)

UPDATE : Guido stands by his story, despite the leaked Mark Townsend and Antony Barnett story in the Observer this morning. Guido’s source is adamant that the investigation will not be over by mid-October. This “leak” in itself has an air of wishful thinking about it bordering on spin. Reading between the lines of their story it looks like somebody either in the CPS or the Attorney-General’s office is their “leak” source. If it is either legal source somebody is improperly spinning the investigation for political purposes – the law is supposed to be above politics. When we are governed by sleazy law-breaking law-makers it is essential that the criminal justice system is not politicised.

UPDATE II : Oh look, Mark Townsend has also written a puff piece for the Attorney-General today, what a coincidence. No point really asking the Attorney-General, Lord Goldsmith, to initiate a root and branch leak investigation is there?

Sources “close to” Lord Goldsmith wouldn’t be trying to pre-empt the investigating officers’ final report?

Get Your Sleazy Sweepstake Gamecards Ready

Guido hears that “friends” of Ruth Turner are claiming “it wasn’t me guv”. Wouldn’t it be fun if the PM has to do the perp walk. Downing Street is determined that the police should just drop by for



Des Smith Hits the Bottle

Des Smith hit the bottle hard last week under the pressure of the police inquiry into the cash for honours scam. He broke down in tears yesterday in court as he was sentenced for drink driving at Redbridge magistrates. The



Quote of the Week

“Michael Abraham Levy, I am arresting you under the terms of the Honours (Prevention of Abuses) Act 1925 and the Political Parties, Election and Referendum Act 2000.”

Detective Superintendent Graham McNulty



Putin takes the Michael out of Blair

Yesterday Putin relished taking the mick out of Blair (the mick of course being Lord Michael Levy). Asked what his message would be to Blair in view of implicit criticism by the British ambassador to Moscow of Putin’s governance, the



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Quote of the Day

François Hollande on the EU referendum:

“The only possible way for those who’re not convinced about Europe is to leave Europe. There’s no other way.”

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