Sunday, 22 April 2007

Cash For Access Memo Leaked Days After CPS is Handed 216 Page Cash for Honours File

A strategy to "sell" Downing Street access to wealthy party donors from the very beginning of the Blair years has been uncovered. A leaked internal memo places Tony Blair, his chief of staff Jonathan Powell and Labour's leading fundraiser Lord Levy at the centre of a "cash-for-access" policy to raise millions.

This leak comes days after police handed over a 216-page file to the Crown Prosecution Service, which is now deciding whether to press criminal charges over the cash-for-honours affair. The document was written by Amanda Delew, the former head of the High Value Fundraising Unit at Labour HQ, shortly after the party swept to power in 1997. It proposes that the prospect of access to Number 10 and Tony Blair could help raise more than £15million for party funds. The paper insists the Prime Minister 'must continue to have private meetings' with some donors while others 'would expect to be invited' to Downing Street.

A Labour spokesman insisted last night that the document was discarded before it reached
senior members of the party and that "no one who gave money to the party is given preferential treatment and no one can buy access to Downing Street".

But Angus MacNeil, the Scottish Nationalist MP who triggered the cash for honours police investigation, said: "This document is symptomatic of New Labour and its obsession with the rich and wealthy. It is not to me, or any other politician, they must answer. It is to the highest court in the land."

Lord Goldsmith , a Labour minister who once gave money to the party and who owes his job to Tony Blair, could end up making the final decision on whether charges are brought. Complaints have been made that the Attorney General is politically compromises however Lord Goldsmith insisted he would judge the case for a prosecution "objectively, on the evidence, independently from Government".

Opposition MPs questioned his impartiality. Shadow Home Secretary David Davis said: "He is a politician and he is a peer - he was made a peer by Tony Blair. None of that is wrong but he should not be involved in this decision. It should be made independently by a members of the Crown Prosecution Service."

Yes, the decision should be made independently however I am certain that Mr. Blair will use all methods of persuasion available to him to encourage Lord Goldsmith to put a stop the the prosecution despite the fact sources close to the inquiry have described the police file as "very robust". If charges are brought, Mr Blair, who was interviewed twice by detectives, could be called to give evidence in court. That alone gives Blair motivation to pressure Lord Goldsmith.

It is quite obvious that honours were sold for donations to the party and even more obvious Levy tried to cover this up. The only remaining question is will Mr Blair's influence stop it from going to trial?

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