Tom Watson: “Will Straw Deserves a Peerage”

Tom Watson has been touring the TV studios to attack Cameron over the honours row, though he’s happy for Labour Remainer Will Straw to get a gong. Meanwhile Corbyn’s office say they don’t have a comment. Surely nothing to do with Shami’s peerage

UPDATE: Watson tells Wato that giving Miliband’s campaign director Spencer Livermore a peerage was “rewarding failure”:

Michael White Owes Guido An Apology

The controversial Downing Street Second Email System story is back in the news. In 2007 in the middle of Blair’s Loans for Lordships crisis and the arrest of Downing Street officials by police searching for evidence, Guido alleged that there was a second, unofficial, email system in Downing Street used to send off-the-record emails. The Mail on Sunday ran with the story, the Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman under questioning from the Lobby denied its existence at two briefings. Guido demanded that the PMOS issued a correction, none was forthcoming. Shortly after on Newsnight, back in his more camera-shy days, Guido repeated the allegation. Michael White in no uncertain terms sided with the PMOS saying Guido’s story was untrue, based on the word of PMOS rather than any research.

Under questioning about this subject by MPs on the Public Administration Select Committee Blair’s Cabinet Secretary Gus O’Donnell also claimed “There is no second email system inside No 10.” Damian McBride two weeks ago confirmed the existence of a second email system in Downing Street. Michael will surely want to correct his naive mistake…

Caring Labour Lender Donating Interest to Tories

Sir Richard Caring lent Labour £2 million back  during the loans-for-lordships era under Blair. He didn’t collect a peerage but he has been collecting 6.5% interest on the loan, or some £130,000 a year. That is roughly £2-a-year from each and every single Labour Party member.

With the Tories now in power he has switched and donated £140,000 to them. Guido thinks it a deliciously witty joke to donate the Labour Party’s interest payments to the Conservative Party’s treasure chest…

Hat-tip: David Hencke

Loans for Lordships Converted Into Donations

At first glance the just released Electoral Commission figures show that the Conservatives raised £5,315,271 (over 20% of which came from taxpayer subsidy) and Labour raised a total of £7,649,747 in donations.

Actually when you break it down it looks like Lord Sainsbury wrote off £2,511,808 in loans and interest, converting the debt into a donation, Sir David Garrard did the same for £352,278 and Sir Gulam Noon likewise for £307,576. J K Rowling put £1 million of her Potter profits into propping up Labour. The rest of the money came from the unions apart from a donation-in-kind from Saatchi and Saatchi for their crap “Not Flash, Just Gordon” campaign.

UPDATE : Contrary to the Press Association report which all the rest of the media (both broadcast and print) are using for their reports, the total figure for loans converted is not £2.25m. It totals £3,171,662 in loans and interest written off from Lord Sainsbury, Sir Gulam Noon and Sir David Gerrard – the latter in the form of a partial conversion of his loan and interest into a donation. Guido just confirmed this with the Electoral Commission. Don’t they check their sources? Guido 1, Big Media 0.

Who is Leaking Now?

At the last stormy meeting of Tony Wright’s Public Administration Select Committee, Yates of the Yard was blamed for leaking during the inquiry into Loans for Lordships. He pointed the finger at the politicians on the committee. They in turn accused the police.

So who told the Sunday papers about Levy trying to block publication (later today) of Gulam Noon’s letter to the committee? Yates hasn’t even seen the letter.

Here are a selection of the stories from the Sunday papers:

Who do you now believe was really responsible for the leaks and speculation, the police or the politicians?

The Fat Lady is About to Sing

All those who pledged to support a private prosecuton of Lord Levy should now have received an update by email and text message.

As was always intended, we will make a final decision as to whether to seek a prosecution following the conclusion of the all-party Public Administration Select Committee’s deliberations. They will be publishing their report into “Honours and Propriety” on Wednesday.

Well over two hundred people have pledged financial support for a prosecution. As we have seen with this second Donorgate wave of Labour fundraising sleaze, there will be no end to corrupt political fundraising until those concerned realise that they risk jail. This can’t be allowed to go on unpunished. Harman, Hain and others claim ignorance of the law and forgetful mistakes. The opportunity to unforgettably impress on politicians the disgust of voters with the system is approaching…

Martin Bell Witnesses Crime, Keeps Schtum

Speaking at the University of Wolverhampton yesterday, Martin Bell told an audience at an open public lecture to plug his latest, book that “he saw and heard an MP trade his vote for a peerage while he was a member”. He explained that he wouldn’t name the party involved because he “didn’t want to spend the next 5 years in court”.

Some might think that reporting crime was a legal requirement, let alone a moral one, for the man in the white suit.

Huhne : Sue Me,”Labour Sold Honours”

Huhne has told the Indy that “the whiff of corruption has become a nauseating stench..there was an organised arrangement whereby a very large amount of money was donated to the Labour Party and at the same time the major donors received peerages and knighthoods”.

“It’s quite clear what was going on,” he said. “This was basically a supermarket in honours. It is completely mad to suggest other than this was an organised matter. I am very happy to say that on the record. If they [the Government] think otherwise they can very happily take me to a libel court.”

Huhne is no idiot, that is too vague to be libellous if it were untrue. You would have to say something more specific, such as “Lord Levy was intimately involved in the trading of honours for donations to the Labour party.” That would only be libellous if it were untrue, and that is why Lord Levy isn’t going to sue anyone.

PASC Hearing Report to Follow

Guido found the hearing very, very interesting. Actually thought Wright did a reasonably good job. There was a little partisan point scoring from members, but essentially he said “told you so.”

Full(er) report later. Must dash…

How to Tell If Tony Wright Has Been Nobbled

Today is the first hearing of the Public Administration Select Committee into Propriety and Honours: Lessons Learned. At 3.00 pm oral evidence will be taken from: AC John Yates, Metropolitan Police, Carmen Dowd, Head of Special Crime Division, CPS and David Perry QC.

This is only the first hearing, we are told there will be others.

Tony Wright chairs the committee and is being criticised for selecting the terms of reference to avoid investigating the actual allegations. He no doubt would argue that was the job of the police.

However, if at a subsequent hearing he does not call Lord Levy to answer questions, you can safely assume he has been nobbled. Arguably Blair and Ruth Turner should also be called to explain themselves.

Guido has also seen a copy of a letter sent to Tony Wright by a witness making specific allegations about being offered honours in return for donations to the Labour party. The letter specifies who made the offer, the figures discussed, as well as naming the Labour party operators involved when they were introduced to Tony Blair. The witness states in the letter that they are bemused at the lack of a prosecution. The witness also states in their letter to Tony Wright (copied to all members of the Committee) that they are willing to testify to the Committee. If that witness is not called Tony Wright has been nobbled.

To the hundreds who have pledged publicly (and privately) to financially support a private prosecution and have been wondering what has been going on, rest assured preparations have been made, legal soundings have been taken and we are waiting to see what comes out of these hearings.

You will also remember that after the dropping by the CPS of the case, the briefings in the papers by “friends” of Levy and Ruth Turner that they would be taking legal action against those who made the accusations. Nobody has received a writ. They have gone very quiet.

+++ YATES TO SPEAK TO SELECT COMMITTEE 23rd OCT +++

Propriety and Honours: Lessons Learned

Date and Venue: Tuesday 23 October, 3.00 pm in the Wilson Room, Portcullis House

Witnesses: AC John Yates, Metropolitan Police, Carmen Dowd, Head of Special Crime Division, CPS and David Perry QC

Guido plans to be there too…

200 Pledge to Back Private Prosecution

Over two hundred people have pledged to contribute financially towards bringing a private prosecution over Loans for Lordships since the CPS has shown itself unwilling to do so.

Guido has taken soundings and now believes that the best course of action is to form a special purpose vehicle to instruct a legal team and take this further. It also seems wise to first allow the Public Administration Select Committee to conduct its investigation when MPs return after the recess. They will hold evidence sessions after Parliament returns from its summer recess, and report by the end of the year.

Tony Wright plans to call Assistant Commissioner John Yates as a witness. It will be particularly interesting to see what evidence comes out at that time. Meantime if you want to be involved in the formation of a vehicle to bring a prosecution or have relevant legal experience and knowledge, email Guido.

The Courts come to a halt and the political class will be on holiday for the next month. Guido will be in touch with pledge makers with more details in due course.

Private Prosecution Fund Update

As of now 145 people on the PledgeBank website have indicated they want to financially support a private prosecution. You can also pledge via Facebook and even text ‘pledge cash4prosecution‘ to 60022 from your mobile phone. Old fashioned email works as well.

If you can help with this project contact Guido ASAP.

Surge of Net-Roots Support for a Private Prosecution

Since yesterday pledges of support for a private prosecution have come in thick and fast on the main PledgeBank website and a few via Facebook. You can even text ‘pledge cash4prosecution‘ to 60022 from your mobile phone. One substantial financial pledge via email will hopefully not be the last.

At this preliminary stage the intention is to convene a legal conference before the end of the month and go through the issues and examine the possible approaches including the establishment of a vehicle with a legally qualified advisory committee.

Guido is keenly aware of potential hurdles and risks. Surely the Attorney General will not be able to argue that the public interest is best served by turning a blind eye to what was manifestly an attempt to circumvent the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 Act? How will the public interest be harmed by testing in a court before a jury the legality of the Loans for Lordships scheme?

One example will give you a flavour of the Loans for Lordships scheme – Gulam Noon has publicly stated that he made a £250,000 donation to the Labour party, which he correctly submitted (via Downing Street) on his vetting papers for the House of Lords Appointments Commission. Two days later on October 5, 2005 Lord Levy, Gulam Noon reportedly claims, telephoned him and referred to the £250,000 donation as a “loan” which need not be disclosed on his vetting papers. The Levy-intercepted and revised vetting papers were submitted to the House of Lords Appointments Commission, now without mention of the £250,000 “loan” / donation. When the Commission independently discovered the existence of the “loan” / donation they blocked the peerage – as presumably Lord Levy knew they would – why else would he intervene in the process? What was the Labour party’s chief fundraiser doing intervening in the honours process anyway? Prima facie there is a case to answer. If the CPS won’t bring it, they should at least not attempt to block others from doing so.

UPDATE : The first target of one hundred people making pledges of financial support for a private prosecution has been met in less than 24 hours.

Private Prosecution : Pledge Support

Graphic courtesy of Beau Bo D’Or

Guido has been in discussion with some of m’learned friends after a careful reading of the CPS statement. The CPS has decided on a bar set very high to justify not prosecuting under the Honours (Prevention of Abuses) Act 1925 (‘the 1925 Act’).

The Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act, 2000 (‘the 2000 Act’) was dealt with far too perfunctorily in the CPS statement. More than one legal authority consulted by Guido thinks that there are avenues open to a private prosecution via the 2000 Act which have the advantage of not requiring the proving of a conspiracy.

The weakest part of the CPS statement is point 30:

In relation to possible breaches of the 2000 Act, we are satisfied that we cannot exclude the possibility that any loans made – all of which were made following receipt by the Labour Party of legal advice – can properly be characterised as commercial.

There are a number of related suspected offences under the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 governing the evasion of restrictions on donations which provide a firm and clear basis for action. Crucially, a prosecution on this basis would avoid the difficulties of having to prove a conspiracy. It would also have the advantage that there are statements from donors already in the public domain which, contrary to the stated view of the CPS, exclude the possibility that the loans were made, or intended to be made, on a commercial basis.

The attempt by Levy et al to portray themselves as the victims of an over zealous policeman are contemptible. They deliberately subverted the law in a secret attempt to cover up donations made by persons they later put forward for honours. A fact they deliberately and disingenuously hid from House of Lords Appointment Committee. If you want to see justice done and the law upheld, pledge your support for a private prosecution here.

Full text of the CPS Decision


Full text PDF here.

Do You Believe there is No Connection Between Cash and Honours?

Tony Blair created 292 peers. Millions were raised from the recipients of those honours.

The correlation between making large donations to the Labour Party and receiving an honour is extraordinary. Statistical analysis shows that 58.54% of all donors giving more than £50,000 to the Labour Party receive an honour. This compares to just 0.035% of non-donors. Large Labour Party donors are 1,657 times more likely to receive an honour than a non-donor and 6,969 times more likely to receive a peerage. It is almost impossible to avoid the conclusion that the Labour Party has been selling honours, including places in the House of Lords. An analysis of all donations over £50,000 since 2001 reveals that Honour certainly has its price. We publish below the average amount donated by the recipients of various honours – an “Honours Price List”. Those receiving a Peerage have given £1.07 million on average, and a Knighthood £747,000…

Source : The Price of Dishonour

Funding Facts:

  • 80% of Labour’s election funding came from the covert Loans for Lordship program.
  • Every donor who has given the party more than £1 million has been given a knighthood or a peerage.
  • Three quarters of those individuals who have given more than £50,000 to the Labour Party since 2001 have received an honour.

Look Who Flew in to Say Goodbye to Blair

Yates of the Yard is still chasing down evidence and statements to tighten up the case against Sleazy Levy.
Police flew in Ms Courtney Coventry yesterday to question her again about her dealings with Blair and Levy. In April 2004 she was canvassed by Jane Hogarth, the Labour party’s former head of high-value fund raising who supposedly has been made redundant – but is actually still working as a “consultant” to the party.

Lord Levy introduced Courtney, as a potential donor, to Tony Blair. The police want to know what Levy promised in return for a donation.

Innocent Drinks

Last night at the House, on the terrace, a co-conspirator spied John McTernan, drinking with Bridget Prentice. They moved on to the Strangers bar later that night. She is the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Ministry of Justice with responsibility for legal services. John was, you will recall, very helpful to Yates of the Yard with his enquires. Clearly they had much to discuss…

Politicians are Feral Spinners

Blair must reap what he sowed. The culture of New Labour is a culture of rapid rebuttal, the set “line”, the vicious rubbishing of enemies, the off-the-record briefing all backed up by armies of government media handlers and Special Advisers. 24/7 rolling spin…

Remember, for example, what they told us about the Women’s Institute member who led the slow-hand-clapping of Blair – that she had a National Front past.

[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +



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Michael Crick on Safe Seats:

“In effect, new MPs are being elected day by day now, as, amid huge secrecy, small cabals of party bigwigs pick candidates for safe seats.”

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