“Police closing in on Blair over cash-for-honours” said one recent UK headline, which is peculiar – it’s not as if they don’t know where he lives. Amidst Iraq, the Stern report and the news that most teenagers regard ASBOs (anti-social behaviour orders) as a badge of honour, police inquiries into the sales of peerages for a “loan” to the Labour party, have rolled on in their quiet, remorseless fashion.
Mr Tony refused to comment on the matter at his monthly press conference on Monday, but the Mail on Sunday suggests he is in a “blind panic” at reports that Scotland Yard has a “killer email” linking him directly to millionaire fundraiser Lord Levy, and that he will have to resign as PM, prior to arrest under the 1925 Sale of Honours Act.
Essential UK politics blogger Guido Fawkes notes that the story only appeared to have died, because the police have played their cards close to their chest – they doubt the independence of the Crown Prosecution Service. Thus the story may explode at any moment.
Key Downing Street aide Ruth Turner has already been questioned under caution, as may have chief of staff Jonathan Powell and his political secretary, John McTiernan – the latter a feted guest of the Australian Fabian Society a couple of years ago.
The whole thing is made more complex by two factors: the contradictory role of the Attorney-General Lord Goldsmith (himself a Labour peer who has also been a large donor to the party) as a member of the executive and chief prosecutor. Customarily the A-G doesn’t sit in Cabinet; this one has. However as legal blog Gideon’s Trumpet notes, the 1925 Act doesn’t exclude (as such acts usually do) the possibility of a private prosecution.
The possibility of a hostile US Congress, Danny Ortega in Nicaragua, allied defeat in Iraq, and Mr Tony leaving Number Ten in cuffs – what can one say? It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…