After the solid performances in the by-elections last night and the "so-what" reaction to drug allegations, the 18 month inquiry in the cash for honours scandal has cleared anyone of any wrongdoing.
I was surprised at the number of bloggers, left and right, who took the view that Levy and the rest (from both sides of the House) were up to something but there simply wasn't enough evidence. Paul Linford has compared the result to the other great "whitewash" - the Hutton Inquiry. I also take the view that all is not perfectly innocent but it should not be as surprising as it may seem that a Labour supporter gets an honour. After all, the Lords were packed out with Tories during the Thatcher years. Right or wrong, the whole investigation has been a farce and vast waste of public money - it was also very unlikely that anyone would be fingered for it and so it has turned out. There will always be a shadow over the merky world of honours however, regardless of the this verdict.
Carmen Dowd announced today her decision on behalf of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) that there would be no criminal proceedings arising out of the so called “Cash for Honours” investigation. In reaching this decision, she was advised by a team of independent counsel, led by David Perry QC. The Director of Public Prosecutions played no part in the decision-making process. In his stead, Carmen Dowd consulted the Director’s Principal Legal Advisor, Chris Newell.
All hell is about to break loose
The CPS has decided that no charges are to be brought against those involved in the cash-for-honours investigation.
And so it came to pass that another of the year's predictions came true.
Will the story go quietly? Not a chance. Expect the Tory blogs to erupt with indignation. Especially as one of Guido's predictions falls flat (and not for the first time)...
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.
What brilliant timing for the Labour Party? Just as the polls were closing in Sedgefield and Ealing Southall, the news that the CPS is likely to drop the cash for peerages prosecution hits the airwaves. Given the following three facts that are in the public arena
1. Labour secretive funding arrangements for the 2005 General Election.
2. Blair's "they were party peerages" defence.
3. Even though several of the donors have never done anything for the Labour party other than give them this loan.
Lawyers from the Crown Prosecution Service met yesterday to finally conclude how this 16 month investigation into allegations of 'cash for honours' - that went to the very heart of
And like Guido, neither do I believe there has never been a connection between donations to the Labour Party and the award of peerages, even if nothing was ever written down on paper about it in a way that would have enabled the Crown Prosecution Service to prove that a specific crime had been committed.
Cash for honours: no charges
Finally we reach the conclusion of the cash for honours affair. And, in the immortal words of the country and western song, there’s no charge.
New Labour is going to claim that 16-month investigation by Scotland Yard exonerates Levy, Turner, and Evans. It doesn’t. It simply means that there is insufficient evidence to take things further.
Desperation knows no bounds…
Does anyone - or should I say anyone expressing an honest and unbiased opinion - really believe that a full audit of Tory Party finances and donations covering the Thatcher/Major government, which created 341 peers between them, would not show much the same kind of correlation?
Gordon's lucky escape
If the cash-for-honours decision had gone the other way, it would have damaged the Labour party and badly rocked Brown's premiership.