Guido thinks such a ruse to bankrupt Blair et al unlikely to succeed, the money was spent by the Labour party, Blair was party leader and Carter general secretary. Would be fun to see them wriggling in court.
Guido has however heard Tory-inclined lawyers contemplating over their brandies the prospect of bringing a private prosecution in the event that the CPS fails to take action. Guido is good for a grand towards costs and suspects many, many others would willingly do the same.
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.
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.
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?
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.
“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 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
PART IV, CONTROL OF DONATIONS TO REGISTERED PARTIES AND THEIR MEMBERS ETC
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).
*Blair has created an unprecedented 292 peers.
“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?
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…
Sunday Opening Session : Welcoming words from Sir Richard Leese, Leader of Manchester City Council, Renewing the Party for the Future, Party Chair Hazel Blears MP, Scottish Report : First Minister Jack McConnell MSP, Welsh Report : First Minister Rhodri