One lot in particular caught Guido’s eye. Don’t worry Michael, Guido will pay cash in a brown envelope…
The place was filled to gills with hacks and Guido had to push a few out of the way to make it to the drinks (sorry Emily). Admittedly Guido left early and the only MP Guido spotted was Charles Clarke. Perhaps the PM or the Blairs will drop in later, or perhaps not…
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:
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…
Paxman: I wasn’t suggesting impropriety I was merely suggesting he knew who Mr Abrahams was.
Hoon: He has made clear he hasn’t solicited any donations whatsoever from Mr Abrahams and given the facts set out by Paul Mason in his interviews it seems highly unlikely that he would approach him for a donation given the history between the two men.
Hoon was not telling the truth as became clear minutes later when Abrahams contradicted him. Mendelsohn not only knew Abrahams, he knew about his substantial donations and currently wanted to discuss getting more for Gordon. He handwrote his letter addressed to “Dear David”…
So when Gordon Brown told us he wanted to clean up politics after the sleaze of the Blair era, he clearly wanted to put all that dodgy fundraising behind him. So why did he appoint lobbyist Jon Mendelsohn as the Labour party’s Director of General Election Resources, reporting directly to wee Douglas Alexander?
Mendelsohn is a friend and protege of Sleazy Lord Levy. After he cashed in his LLM stock his days at the office were spent on the phone on behalf of Labour Friends of Israel, plotting with Levy, using all the same hustling tricks as Levy. It would be very interesting to see how many Mendelsohn clients got honours…
Jon’s firm pioneered cash-for-access in the early days of New Labour for LLM clients, he is at the centre of a web of financial links to Labour; Treasurer of Policy Network, Treasurer of Progress, deeply involved in Labour Friends of Israel. His firm is infamous for lobbying on behalf of two opposing cities to get a super-casino. This is not the first or the last time that his mendaciousness has been exposed…
It is clear that Mendelsohn knew that Abrahams was the real donor of substantial sums, in which case he was in the know about an illegal funding operation, he can’t remain the head of Labour’s fundraising efforts in those circumstances.
“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.
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.
Lord Levy introduced Courtney, as a potential donor, to Tony Blair. The police want to know what Levy promised in return for a donation.
In his speech he praised two former FCO Permanent Secretaries – John Kerr and Michael Jay – for their help. He cracked a gag congratulating them on their peerages, saying with a smile: “Nothing to do with me.”
Tony told the Lancaster House party goers “I would like to thank him for everything he has done for our country.” Guido suspects that the next place Tony speaks about Sleazy Levy in public will be at the Old Bailey.
The LibDem’s Lord Oakeshott asks: “Why should the taxpayer put his card behind the bar for Lord Levy’s leaving party?” Guido would be happy to see the taxpayer pick-up the tab for levy’s food and drink – porridge and prison tea…
While researching the latter book it has come to Guido’s notice that, somewhat bizarrely for a man on police bail, whenever Sleazy Levy is in public he can invariably be seen being kept under the watchful eye of the Metropolitan Police. Guido understands that they are for his personal protection, not surveillance.
Guido never knew it could be so dangerous in leafy Mill Hill…
The CPS could make a decision as soon as June, at a time when many expect the Blair-Brown handover to be in process. Guido has long believed that the police would not be fazed by dealing with powerful political figures, that Levy would inevitably face charges and is now convinced that senior figures at the CPS will not find it possible to sweep things under the carpet. Lord Goldsmith may not even be in office when the decision to prosecute is made, it could well be a Brown appointee. If Brown’s Attorney General were to block charges the prospect of a private prosecution being brought remains. Soundings have already been taken by interested parties at the Inner Temple about this possibility.
If the Attorney General were to then enter a plea of nolle prosequi, claiming it would not be in the public interest to put Blair’s lieutenants on trial, Brown’s administration would forever be tainted with covering up his predecessor’s corruption. Something Brown is unlikely to countenance.
One way or another, this is going to go all the way.
*Guido was at the time supping champagne at Pascal Aussignac’s Club Gascon.
Much as Guido hates to add to his troubles given his current mental state, Sleazy Levy had a very similar routine, although a little more direct. If he smelt money off you at a social or party event, he would invite you to visit him at the Lords and hit you up for dosh there. Perhaps, given the circumstances, we should skip the rap on the knuckles from the parliamentary authorities option. He has enough to worry about as it is…
The Indy reckons Levy ‘feels let down and is about to turn on the Labour Party, the Sunday Times says Blair aides ‘plotted’ to foil police.
If (as is widely believed around Westminster) McTernan has grassed about the alleged cover-up, then Powell, previously perceived as too clever to get caught, could also be in trouble and dodgy donor Chris Evans can expect his day in court as well.
Well perhaps he should stop ringing up political editors and briefing them in that case? All those unnamed “friends” quoted in the press are him, briefing…
The BBC appears to be in a position to stand up the story going around in mid-January about a “Smoking Gun” email. Why else would the police want to injunct the story unless it was correct and revealing? The question is, who passed the email to the Beeb and what is their motive?
Fact : the BBC does not do cheque-book journalism.
Fact : Yates’ team are, whatever the spin from Downing Street apologists, very tight-lipped.
When news of arrests and interviews has come out, it has more often than not been from the politicians themselves. Given that the Beeb didn’t buy this story, who profits from revealing crucial police evidence? Not the investigators, which is why the police sought to suppress the story, because defence lawyers could make much mischief, and probably will, with the “trial by media” line.
To quote the most famous detective of all, “If you eliminate the impossible, whatever is left, even if improbable, must be true.” Those under investigation, now that they believe it no longer possible to “fix” the CPS because of the evidence known to have been discovered, have the most to benefit from bringing the evidence into the public domain. The desperadoes of Downing Street would not be above leaking against themselves, tactically it would also allow them to portray themselves as victims of media savvy police investigators. They already brief that the police are “theatrical” and whine that they are unable to publicly defend themselves from the “trial by media”.
These are dangerous times for Downing Street’s toughest street fighters. The gloves are definitely off, which is why Guido thinks this leak has Downing Street’s fingerprints on it.
Well the mental pressure must be immense, what will his defence be? Guido fears it may all get too much for him in the way that it did for Ernie Saunders. Whatever happened to Ernie?