‘Cash for honours’: the inquiries continue

by Stephen Tall on July 24, 2007

Labour’s top fundraisers and donors may have been saved from chokey by the Crown Prosecution Service last week, but they still have to run the gauntlet of the House of Commons’ Public Affairs Committee.

The committee halted its investigation into ‘cash for honours’ to avoid prejudicing any trial proceedings, but now there are no such restrictions. Among those likely to be called give evidence are Met assistant commissioner John Yates, the top cop who led the police investigation.

Lib Dem MP Paul Rowen said in today’s Daily Mail: “My view is that there is a lot more to this than meets the eye. While there may be insufficient evidence for a criminal investigation, there are a lot of questions that have not been answered.”

If Yates of the Yard’s views are heard in public, there could still be a few sleepless nights ahead for those most closely involved.

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I’m not sure that there is a lot more to this than meets the eye. People donate large sums to political parties and then later on they get peerages. It’s been going on for years, and to me it’s a bit of a moot point as to whether the law has technically been infringed. The only solution is a fully elected upper chamber.

by Laurence Boyce on July 24, 2007 at 9:56 am. Reply #

The CPS may have declined to prosecute, but the public perception is they are as guilty as hell.*

To argue that the whole system is corrupt (which it is) is disingenuous. If Blair and Levy broke the law, then they should be prosecuted, just as Joe Public would be.

Yet again, the CPS has erred on the side of protecting the rich and powerful.

Now, before anyone waves Conrad Black at me, here’s the difference. Black had ripped off shareholders who were demanding their money back and would not go away, and Black was unable to buy them off. Sometimes the establishment simply can’t protect its own.

* “Insufficient evidence” didn’t protect James Hanratty, Michael Stone, Barry George and Abol Bassat Al-Megrahi from prosecution, did it? Even though the prosecuting authorities knew perfectly well they were innocent.

PS: I don’t suppose they’ll be having Norman Baker on the Public Afffairs Committee?

by Angus Huck on July 24, 2007 at 11:38 am. Reply #

I don’t suppose they’ll be having Norman Baker on the Public Affairs Committee.

I should hope not, because Norman is a fruitcake of the highest order. Did he perchance feed you that stuff about Hanratty being innocent?

by Laurence Boyce on July 24, 2007 at 12:45 pm. Reply #

Is the committee going to investigate the fact that leading Lib Dem donors also get Peerages on Lib Dem nominations?

by David Boothroyd on July 24, 2007 at 12:48 pm. Reply #

There is a difference between a party activist who gives money as well as time & effort to the party of their choice being nominated by their party as a working peer; and someone being rewarded for their donation with a title.
If we get an elected second chamber, however, this ceases to be an issue…

by Bridget Fox on July 24, 2007 at 4:28 pm. Reply #

There is a big issue still unresolved post the cash for honours investigation.

It may be right that there are no prosecutions – difficult to get the evidence – circumstancial and no written / documented evidence – one person’s word and uncertain at that etc…

However, the funding of Labour’s election campaign by massive loans undisclosed to the party / unreported until afterwards begs a lot more questions about accountability to their own party and the public perception of all politicians.

The big issue is about a fair / legitimate and satisfactory way for parties to be funded. this has to involve some state money and there has to be a concensus across the parties for this to happen without further damage to our political process, public confidence and the parties themselves.

by Paul L on July 24, 2007 at 4:43 pm. Reply #

Laurence, Norman is no fruitcake. Norman is one of our stars. He is a champion of Parliament, and (the best thing that can be said of anyone) a true liberal.

by Stuart on July 24, 2007 at 7:46 pm. Reply #

Norman is a fruitcake!
Norman is a fruitcake!
La laa laa la!
La laa laa la!

by Laurence Boyce on July 24, 2007 at 8:26 pm. Reply #

Has anyone noticed you never see Laurence and Grant Shapps together….

Angus didn’t say Hanratty was innocent – just that the fact that there was insufficient evidence at the time didn’t protect him

by Hywel Morgan on July 24, 2007 at 8:46 pm. Reply #

‘The only solution is a fully elected upper chamber.’

Completely wrong in my view,the Lords has only limited delaying powers and none when a finance bill is involved.More importantly with a fully elected house we will lose the 20% or so independent members and only have reject or party partisan politicians instead.

by jim on July 24, 2007 at 10:35 pm. Reply #

Perhaps Laurence Boyce can answer the following:-

(1) How is it that on the night Michael Gregsten was murdered (between Slough and Maidenhead), Hanratty was staying in a guesthouse in Rhyl – some 200 miles away? 11 people saw Hanratty there, and a shopkeeper spoke to him in Liverpool earlier in the day.

(2) How is it that Valerie Storie said the man who attacked her had brown eyes? (Hanratty’s eyes were blue.)

(3) How did £5,000 find its way into Peter Louis Alphon’s bank account shortly after Hanratty’s conviction? (Alphon was unemployed and scrounged off his mother. Alphon showed his bank statements to Paul Foot.)

(4) How is it that Mr William Ewer was known to so many otherwise unconnected witnesses? (He knew Hanratty, from whom he received stolen property, he was a personal friend of Louise Anderson, another Hanratty fence, he knew Peter Louis Alphon, and he shacked up with Janet Gregsten, the murdered man’s wife. Oh, and his junk shop was just round the corner from Charlie France, Hanratty’s “friend” whose teenage daughter Hanratty seduced at Battersea Fun Fair.)

That’s enough to be going on with, Laurence. Plenty more when you’ve finished.

by Angus Huck on July 24, 2007 at 11:04 pm. Reply #

Sorry to go “off topic” in my previous post. Just had to answer Laurence.

Back to cash for honours.

Norman Baker has won the respect and admiration of people right across the political spectrum. Even the “Daily Mail” has a lot of good things to say about him. Also, Andy Thomas, the Sussex crop circle specialist, has spoken very highly of him. You can’t say that about many other Lib Dem MPs, now can you?

I was down in Sussex the other day, and I was looking at a notice board in the village of Arlington (Long Man country). And what did I see? Two Lib Dem councillors in Hellingly Ward (Wealden DC). Now, if Norman can win in places like Arlington, he’s got to be doing something right.

by Angus Huck on July 24, 2007 at 11:21 pm. Reply #

If the Lib Dems followed the same approach as Labour to people who lend them money, I reckon I’d be in the House of Lords by now. Thankfully we don’t and we use a democratic process instead – and campaign for an elected 2nd chamber.

[I hasten to add that I have no desire for a peerage, in case you’re offering, Mr Boothroyd!]

by Dominic on July 25, 2007 at 12:50 am. Reply #

Hi Angus. I’m perfectly happy to answer your points in turn:

1) Dunno.
2) Dunno.
3) Dunno.
4) Dunno.

Oh dear, I’d say that was game, set and match to you. I feel a little foolish now. So I had better graciously concede the argument without further delay: Yup, Hanratty was completely innocent.

by Laurence Boyce on July 25, 2007 at 3:32 am. Reply #

Laurence, I think I ought to answer my questions:-

(1) Because Hanratty actually was in Rhyl on the night Michael Gregsten was murdered.

(2) Because Valerie Storie was attacked by Peter Louis Alphon, who had brown eyes. (Her first and only accurate account was given to David Kerr, an Oxford University student, a few hours after the attack. Kerr’s written record was destroyed by Bedfordshire Police.)

(3) Because William Ewer paid Peter Louis Alphon £5,000 to kill Michael Gregsten and frame Hanratty. (Ewer wanted his hands on Gregsten’s wife, but that was not the reason he gave Alphon.)

(4) Because Ewer either bribed or blackmailed all these people to give evidence against Hanratty.

And I will provide answers to two further questions:-

(1) How is it that Hanratty’s semen was found on Valerie Storie’s knickers?

BECAUSE the Police put it there. Remember, in 1996 the Police were claiming there was no semen on Valerie Storie’s knickers. A few days before he was arrested, Hanratty had sex with Gladys Deacon in the back seat of his car in Kenton. He practiced coitus interruptus and ejaculated over his trousers. He then placed these trousers, unlaundered, in a suitcase, which he handed over to the Police after his arrest.

(2) How is it that Rab Butler declined to commute Hanratty’s death sentence?

BECAUSE he put his duty as a Freemason above his duty as a Minister of the Crown. “Private Eye” said it was because he was a “flabby-faced old coward”, which may also be true.

by Angus Huck on July 25, 2007 at 3:18 pm. Reply #

Was Mr Rowen brandishing his legal degrees when he made his amazing interjection?

If not I’m with Lawrence. There is a variably loose relationship between donations and honours afflicting all parties.

There is no proof the (woolly) law has been broken and the only way out is ditching honours and appointments to Lords.

by Chris Paul on July 25, 2007 at 4:03 pm. Reply #

Paul, I’ll brandish my legal degree, if you like.

We may never know is there is any proof the law was broken, because it won’t now be argued before a jury.

Where the evidence amounts to reports of undocumented conversations, then proof will be difficult to obtain.

In the present case, I am not at all surprised that the CPS chickened out, but I did consider that on the little we knew, Fred Smith would be convicted, though not necessarily someone like Lord Levy with a silver tongue and a supersilk respresenting him.

Wasn’t it amazing, though, to watch Sir Christopher Evans woffle and evade beneath the tame questioning of Nick Robinson? A good counsel would have made pulp of him, even if he was born in a coal mine (note the menacing hint of violence in his throwaway comment).

by Angus Huck on July 25, 2007 at 4:33 pm. Reply #

He practised coitus interruptus and ejaculated over his trousers.

Did somebody challenge you to insert that phrase into a Lib Dem Voice thread?

by Laurence Boyce on July 25, 2007 at 5:49 pm. Reply #

HUCK: The CPS have decided there is no evidence of an offence and explained in some detail why that is. That’s their job. They have also explained how crappy the current law is in not doing what the media and uninvolved political classes of the day want that law to do. If it is LD policy – as it is LPs – to change this further for the future then we agree on that.

But if it Lib Dem policy to have the CPS let more cases proceed to trial – particularly if there are party political interests and media feeding frenzy – despite the paucity of evidence then perhaps you could explain what the test will be (currently = better than 50% chance of success) and how extra legal costs will be found and how the extra courts will be built?


by Chris Paul on July 25, 2007 at 6:10 pm. Reply #

That should have finished:
Chris – first name
PAUL – family name

by Chris Paul on July 25, 2007 at 6:11 pm. Reply #

I don’t think there is any Lib Dem policy about how many cases the CPS sends to trial.

It is a question of whether or not one is prepared to believe that the CPS was motivated by genuine legal considerations and did not act under pressure from powerful sections of the elite.

Incidentally, I thought there were sufficient grounds for prosecuting Jeremy Thorpe (though John Pardoe said his trial was politically motivated), and I believe there were sufficient grounds for sending Jonathan Aitken and Jeffrey Archer to trial.

I have cited examples of people who were actually tried and convicted on very weak evidence. For instance, Michael Stone, convicted on the entirely worthless testimony of a prison grass, and Barry George, convicted on a combination of character assassination and scientific evidence that was misrepresented to the jury.

So what’s the difference? Might it be that Michael Stone and Barry George are not Tony Blair and Lord Levy?

I would have a wholly elected Upper House, and scrap the entire honours system. I would remove the special legal status from the Saxe-Coburg-Gothas, too. Titles are frankly silly, and it is amazing that anyone should fork out huge sums of money for one.

Yes, I got your name the wrong way round. How terribly careless of me.

by Angus Huck on July 25, 2007 at 6:40 pm. Reply #

“how the extra courts will be built?”

That wouldn’t necessarily be needed. The Courts aren’t especially busy round here. It is a general complaint that the CPS isn’t bringing enough cases to trial

In any case Chris just because the law wasn’t broken doesn’t mean that people were acting rightly.

by Hywel Morgan on July 25, 2007 at 7:01 pm. Reply #

Regarding the constitution of the HoL it is important to remember that it has the function of balancing the HoC and therefore cannot be formulated in the same way.
Ideally the format of elections in a reformed HoL would (and realistically should) differ significantly from those of the HoC in order to reflect and take account of the diverse types and manners of association that exist within modern society.
HoC clearly represents what is common between all members of society, while HoL reflect different areas and all their specifics and specialisms (traditionally all landed estates, ideally all the democratic estates) – ie spiritual, legal, economic, scientific, artistic etc.
The only answer is a parliament which accurately represents and fully embodies our democracy with the full armoury of tools to vigourously defend the freedom of our political system.
The debate over HoL reform is more to do with what sort of bias will be institutionalised and how that will be reflected in the make-up of the representatives within it.
The relationship of powers and functions between the houses need to be clearly defined, transparent, accountable and seperate to be in our best interests – any and all attempts to sway or manipulate an unbalanced or unrepresentative bias (by whichever party) is to undermine that purpose, and is also to undermine the history through which it has evolved.
There are links between money and power (it’s foolish to ignore the fact), just so long as they are recognised openly and honestly then any threats are easily neutralised.
The current saga is damaging because of the threatening corruption that lurks in the murkiness: we can only intuit and adduce whether the flow of power over policy has been reversed from the regulated norms, as legislated for by this administration.

by James S. on July 26, 2007 at 12:28 am. Reply #

This whitewash by the police,CPS and members of the Government can not be allowed to be left to disappear.
If you look at the witness statement of Courtney Coventry, (www.courtneycoventry.com) there is a real cover up going on.
I would hope that the Public affairs Committee demand to hear from Mrs Coventry and see her evidence.

by Anna M on August 13, 2007 at 2:20 am. Reply #

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