Thursday, April 20, 2006

Loans for Lordships : Property Developer Boss Quits

First Capita’s boss Rod Aldridge quits, now another friend of Lord Levy has jumped. It is getting pretty nerve wracking for friends of the Sleaze Master General. Police are investigating the £1m loan to the Labour party made weeks before John Prescott approved plannning permission for his firms £500m property development. Andrew Rosenfeld is to be interviewed by the Yard’s sleaze busting team of detectives about the circumstances of his generosity and fortuitous planning approval.

Pure coincidence says Prescott. No comment says Blair.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Will Blair’s Sleaze-Master General Be Next?

The Sleaze Master General himself will be worried that his former minion, Des Smith, is helping police with their inquiries.

Des Smith, a secondary headteacher who was also a council member of the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust (SSAT) which was the camouflage operation under which peerages were doled out to the Labour party’s secret lenders.

The president of the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust is, of course, Lord Levy.

That perp walk is getting nearer…

+++ FLASH +++ Arrested Man Not Lord Levy

Lord Levy’s Listening

Thursday, April 6, 2006

Police Getting Closer, Run Levy, Run!

Following discussions with the Metropolitan Police, the Electoral Commission has decided to suspend temporarily its enquiries into past loans to political parties pending the outcome of the related police investigation. The Commission is therefore postponing further discussions with the parties on this matter.

The Commission will be liaising closely with the Metropolitan Police over the next few weeks.

Guido loves this graphic, but will cherish the real pictures even more.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

The Abramoff Precedent Must Be Worrying Sleazy Levy

Jack Abramoff, the Republican lobbyist at the centre of a Washington corruption scandal, was sentenced to five years and 10 months in prison yesterday.

Just goes to show that no matter how close to the powerful you are, no matter how well connected you are, the criminal justice system can’t be spun as easily as newspaper headlines.

How long before we see Levy do the “perp walk”?

Monday, March 27, 2006

Levy Asked for Credit Knowing Refusal Often Offends

Seems to Guido that the wrong questions are being asked, Prescott in all likelihood did not know about the loans to the property developers. Lord Levy on the other hand mixes in the same social circles as Sir David Garrard and Andrew Rosenfeld, the property millionaires behind Minerva.

Sleazy Levy would know that they were risking millions on getting government approval, they would therefore be vulnerable to an approach from the Labour party’s fundraiser – well, if you have a £600 million property development resting on government approval what is a £3 million “loan”? It represents less than 1/2% of the development cost.

Capita with billions in government contracts would also be vulnerable, we all know you “do not to ask for credit because refusal often offends”. What businessman would want to offend their biggest customer, even if as Labour claims it was unlikely to make any real difference, would you as CEO want to risk offending the source of more than half your revenues? Rod Aldridge didn’t approach Labour with an offer to help, they approached him – “The Labour Party came to me last year in need of financial support following the costs incurred at the last general election”, he said.

Businessman are cynical about politicians, most would view such an approach as a shakedown, but what real choice would they have?

Zopa

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Sleaze Buster Cop Asks Select Committee to Halt Inquiry

Scotland Yard’s John Yates, who is leading the Loans for Lordships investigation, has asked for the Public Affairs Select Committee hearings to be postponed. The sleaze busting cop wants the police investigation to have precedence and the hearings scheduled for next week stopped because they risk prejudicing the criminal investigation. Lord Levy had agreed to answer the committee’s questions.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Tory TV : Cameron on the NHS

The campaign message in this week’s video is “Brown’s NHS cuts”.

Cameron comes over as very personable, he could have had a career as a TV presenter – where did it all go wrong?

Not a mention of Loans for Lordships – an indication that the Tories feel a little exposed here?

Cameron should come clean – since it is all before his time and he won’t suffer from it – Blair however is balls deep in with Levy.

Trusts and Convictions

To secure a conviction the detectives will need to find hard evidence that honours were an inducement for donations to the city academies or to the making of loans to the Labour party. Not an incredibly difficult thing to do since we have the evidence of Des Smith, a former council member of the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust (SSA Trust), which helps the government to recruit sponsors for Blair’s academies. He told an undercover Sunday Times reporter that big financial donations to help set up the schools would guarantee a gong. He put it plainly “the prime minister’s office would recommend someone like [the donor] for an OBE, a CBE or a knighthood”.
Asked if this would be just for getting involved in the academies, he responded: “Yes … they call them services to education. I would say to [the SSA Trust] office that we’ve got to start writing to the prime minister’s office… you could go to the House of Lords”. It is a fact that donors to the Labour party who also supported Blair’s flagship policy, through the SSA Trust, got honours. Blair got a double whammy, he got cash for the party as well as financial support for a controversial policy. By disguising the donation to the party as a loan the honour could be respectably awarded for “services to education” without anyone knowing about the bung to the party made through Downing Street. The SSA Trust provided camouflage. When exposed by the Sunday Times Des Smith recanted everything, “confessed” his naive errors, then disappeared back to teaching.
Honours (Prevention of Abuses) Act 1925. Section 1 (1)
If any person accepts, obtains or agrees to accept or obtain from any person, for himself or for any other person, or for any purpose, any gift, money or valuable consideration as an inducement or reward for procuring or assisting or endeavouring to procure the grant of a dignity or title of honour to any person or otherwise in connection with such a grant, he shall be guilty of a misdemeanour.

Des Smith’s admission is prima facie evidence of what we all know. If you wanted a peerage, a seven-figure loan to the Labour party and the same again donated to a city academy obtained it. Levy induced it. He covertly procured the money for the Labour party. The public donations were the cover story. Take the case of Sir David Garrard, a city academy backer whose £2 million loan to the party was followed by the Prime Minister nominating him as a working peer. Was it really a coincidence? If it was nothing to be ashamed of, why did they tell donors not to openly donate the cash as they intended, but to lend it secretly? If it was honest, why did they mislead the Lord’s Appointment Commission about the true nature of the financial relationship between Blair’s nominees and the Labour Party?

Levy loves trusts, he did a lot of his music business through tax efficient offshore trusts. In 1995 he set up the Labour Leader’s Office Fund “blind” trust to finance Blair’s private office. Theoretically it was a blind trust, but we now know that it was not so blind that donors did not get peerages. Such unaccountable and unblind trusts were rightly banned in 2000 under the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act. David Osler in Labour Party Plc: New Labour as a Party of Business estimates that before the law tightened things up £2.5 million was raised for Blair’s office through the trust – outside the Labour party’s structures. We know that at least two donors to the “blind” trust subsequently got peerages – Bob Gavron and Alex Bernstein. Other peers are suspected of having made donations to Blair’s blind trust. A pattern for the future was set, Levy lands the donors to a trust, Blair makes coincidental recommendations, peerages arrive in the post.

A pattern of behaviour is not proof, nor will circumstantial evidence be enough. What the police investigators will need is documentary evidence, they will need, forinstance, to look at the papers provided to the Lord’s Appointments Commission, do they contain falsehoods? Who assisted in that and in doing so attempted to procure the grant of an honour. Did those people have any dealings with donors? Downing Street advisers’ appointments diaries should make interesting reading. Who did Des Smith mean when he referred to the “the prime minister’s office”?

Guido understands that the Specialist Crime Directorate’s* Assistant Commissioner Tarique Ghaffur is treading very carefully with the investigation. Officers led by Deputy Assistant Commissioner John Yates need to seize the diaries of key people quickly before they get “mislaid”. If the diaries show that a donor met anyone involved in the process of procuring honours, than clearly both the donor and the procuror will have to be questioned. Merely writing letters to those concerned requesting to talk to them next month is not good enoughthe police need to go in to Downing Street and get the evidence now.

*Formerly known as the “Fraud Squad”.


Seen Elsewhere

5 Things We Learned From Guido’s Party | GQ
Revealed: Guido Fawkes Anniversary Dinner Guestlist | Peter Oborne
More Owen Jones Errors | Michael Ezra
Why Should Men Get Equal Maternity Leave? | Laura Keynes
Dentists Have Last Laugh Over Sneering Keynes | FT
Why’s Clegg Giving Men Paternity Leave? | Conservative Women
Cam Cannot Stem EU Immigration | David Keighley
9 Mansion Tax Questions for Ed Balls | TPA
Politicians are Lying to You About Immigration | Alex Wickham
Give Journalists Public Interest Defence in Law | Guardian
Cameron is Going to Have to Deal With UKIP | Dan Hodges


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