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6th November, 2007
A few quick updates:
1. The Met continues to have its worries over whether or not another Blair should be given the chop! Sir Ian Blair, Met Commissioner, following the Jean de Menezes affair. He shouldn’t go. Like the other Blair, we need him.
2. And, the Cash For Honours fiasco cost the taxpayer almost one and a half million pounds!
3. And Jonathan Evans, Head of MI5 is telling us what the politicians, in hock to the liberal press and the inner-city Muslim vote, are afraid to tell us. We are under long and short term threat from jihadist brainwashers.
John Humphrys interview of Tony Blair, February 2nd 2007. “I’m not going to beg for my character”.
Friday 20th July, 2007
IT’S OVER, MR BLAIR
As I write the CPS have made their official announcements on the ending of this ‘cash for peerages’ inquiry. So THIS time the leakers were on the ball. I expect it genuinely HAS ended. Should bl***y well think so too.
“Insufficient evidence” it seems, according to some in the press. Sounds unlikely and innacurate reporting that. Couldn’t be, could it, from our trustworthy press?
GB/PM seems to want to draw a line under all of Tony Blair’s time in office, or perhaps a line THROUGH Blair’s time in office! In April 2007 the file went from the Met to the CPS. Mr Blair was questioned again, for a third term but not under caution, so he was never likely to be charged.
To be fair to the police, this £1,000,000+ inquiry, once it had started, was bound to go on until it had reached a conclusion. Whether they were wise to pursue this particularly high profile inquiry I’m sure they will be wondering.
The bottom line to me has been that some kind of quid pro quo has been the norm for centuries as regards peerages. In the absence of full public political funding, and people do NOT seem to want to pay for democracy through taxes, that is to be expected.
Was it an SNP inspired political stunt as Tony McNulty insists? Possibly. If so it was irresponsible, since Angus MacNeil should have known that it could have brought down a Prime Minister and a whole government. And this was the government that had already made changes in party funding and in Lords reform – not BECAUSE of SNP allegations, but well BEFORE that.
“Why is nothing going to happen after ALL this time, paperwork and money?” said Angus Robinson, of the SNP.
You might well ask.
This government – hardly the worst abusers of all time.
We will have to wait to see; but suffice it to say that the usual climate is that politicians are not trusted by many at the best of times.
The “whiter than white” hopes of Tony Blair on coming into Downing Street were a rod for his own back, of course. But it is shameful that he goes down in history as the ONLY sitting prime minister ever to have been questioned by the police. And not just once, but three times.
It’s been damaging – VERY damaging. And for me, losing my trusted prime minister under this cloud has made me question the propriety of the Scottish Nationalist party, the Press and even the Police.
Sunday 29th April, 2007
BEWARE Yates, warns Palace
Following the Paul Burrell case on the late Princess Diana’s artefacts, an inquiry investigated by Assistant Commissioner John Yates, The Observer reveals that Buckingham Palace was severely rattled by Yates’s approach.
It is understood the Queen’s Private Secretary, Sir Robin Janvrin told Jonathan Powell, the PM’s Chief of Staff, that they were unhappy with Yates’s “dogged approach” during the Burrell investigation. Powell was told that John Yates turned the royal household inside out during the Burrell affair.
Yates’s handling of the investigation that led to the trial of Paul Burrell, the former butler to the late Diana, Princess of Wales on charges that he stole some of her property, angered the Palace. The Palace felt badly bruised by the trial, which collapsed in 2002 after the Queen recalled a conversation with Burrell in which he said he was keeping some of the princess’s effects.A well-placed source claimed: ‘Jonathan was told Yates is a menace.’
Number 10 has probably realised that. In fact we have all been told that Yates is terrier-like in his tenacity. That’s been interpreted as a “good thing”; someone not intimidated by anyone at the top of government, even the PM. Someone who was “just following the leads”.
But Yates lost the Burrell case after all that work. And there is nothing quite so grizzly as a terrier with a bone in its mouth, who has had it removed – not just once, but twice.
One day we might ask if Yates was the right one to pursue the cash-for-honours investigation at all.
- Was he able to distance himself objectively from the failure in the Burrell case after the last-minute high-level recollection by the Queen, whereupon the case collapsed?
- Would he have been determined to compensate for that earlier failure?
- For instance, were his interviews of the Prime Minister to make sure that Mr Blair would be less likely to recall something at the last minute to throw the whole case?
- In other words would his investigations be fair and proportionate as well as thorough?
I expect one day we’ll hear something about how Downing Street was turned upside down by Yates’s men in the great Quest for Truth and Justice that will go down in history as –
- *Tony Blair – First Prime Minister Questioned by Police – and TWICE*
Thursday 26th April, 2007
Tracing The Leak – Wet Fingers?
Today the word is out that Scotland Yard itself, or members of, might have been leaking on the Birmingham terror event. And the Home Secretary has denied in a letter that anything was leaked from his department. So the Conservatives might have been running their fingers along the wrong pipework, going for the Government yesterday in Parliament. Today David Cameron is trying to make mileage out of the fact that Tony Blair said “no” to Cameron’s demand into an inquiry into this. What else is he going to say? “Yes, OK”? A week before the local elections? Come on, Mr Cameron. We can see right through you.
As I have said before, the leakers are not all necessarily in the government. The police and press are equally likely to be culpable. After Mr Blair goes, the next PM will have greater motivation and fewer constraints to getting to the bottom of this tripartite and powerful relationship. With the cash-for-honours nonsense still ongoing, and elections in the air, this is not the time.
Wednesday 25th April, 2007
DAC Peter Clarke is complaining about leaks around the January Birmingham case, where several were arrested but as yet, no-one has been charged. The implication being drawn is that someone connected to the government is the leaker. Whether that is what he meant to imply, only he knows, and he has said he implied nothing. But it does make me wonder; if, as he says, the leak “endangered life” why, if these men (or the leak) were so dangerous, hasn’t someone been charged with the Birmingham “beheading video”? Can’t have it both ways. They were either dangerous or innocent.
Who is distracting whom here. It’s bad enough that the opposition parties are using this for electoral advantage at this time, but worse still if the police are using it to cover up their inability to progress with charges against these “dangerous'” men. Hhmm..mm
Friday 16th March, 2007
Proportionality in a Police Investigation
The Book Of The Week Radio 4 – “Not One of Us”
I’ve been listening to this all week. It’s the story of how a police officer, Ali Dizaeli fought for two and a half years to clear his name after he was taken to trial at the Old Bailey – by his own employers.
It’s been shocking. That this could happen to a policeman, makes one wonder what could be done to a civilian, politician or not. Chief Superintendent Ali Dizaeli’s comments rang several bells in the present ongoing cash-for-honours inquiry. In this edition he says –
“It’d be 12 months before I knew what I was to be charged with and how it felt to undergo trial by public opinion.
Every investigation needs careful monitoring. The need for some kind of management control is even more urgent when the investigation is so complex that it is not even clear if there is a crime. Senior investigation officers are trained to remain focused and not be diverted by trivial details for this reason. For example, it’d be foolish to charge a murder suspect for not paying road tax.
An “out of control” investigation is a fishing expedition at best and at worst, a witchhunt. The accused person is definitely guilt of something we just have to work hard enough to find it. But someone, somewhere has to take responsibility … and say “enough”. The jargon for this is proportionality.
A report showed that Superintendent Norman was ignoring the Crown Prosecution Service’s advice, ‘the proposed tests tend to be somewhat contrived leading to potential challenge’ … ‘the investigation will inevitably lead to complaints that those in charge were out to get him at all costs.’
It seems someone else was out of control, and it wasn’t me.”
Thursday 15th March, 2007Inspector Yates today implied that he is going to go on and on, with no time limit on his inquiry. So that’s that then. Shut up and do as you’re told, the British government. You know who’s in charge.Click here for latest news
Friday 9th March, 2007 Who Runs This Joint?Well, it’s not QUITE a police state, but I’m still very concerned about the length of time they have taken to find “villains” in this destructive inquiry. Perhaps there aren’t any! At last MPs are beginning to raise this question. What kept them? Who runs this joint anyway? It seems they wish Inspector Yates to appear before their committee. Having suspended their own inquiry into the cash-for-honours issue last May, they, like the rest of us, had a right to expect that the police would have dismissed or got to the bottom of this by now.And now the Met, and particularly Yates, are getting desperate. And desperate men are not the most reliable.
Sunday, 4th March, 2007 Following the Attorney General’s injunction to the BBC to prevent the broadcast of a ‘cash-for-honours” report, speculation is rife as to how long before charges are brought, on what and against whom. It seems the police are unhappy about “leaking” of e-mail information which, it seems, they hold as evidence against members of the Prime Minister’s inner circle.
Three questions come to my mind.
1 Do the police know for sure and without reasonable doubt that No 10 was leaking to the BBC?
2 How did No 10 know about this imminent police angle on the e-mail? Is it a recent development or long-standing?
3 Could this be a police ‘double bluff’ – with the police doing the leaking but blaming it on No 10? If the police suspect the e-mail evidence to be too flimsy to hold up, it is not beyond imagination that they are attempting to spread unfounded rumours of No 10 dirty tricks. Then No 10, or those associated, might be tempted to incriminate themselves, so breaking SOME law or other. The police know you use a sprat to catch a mackerel. And while I’m in this metaphorical mode, as someone once said, “you must lose a fly to catch a trout”.
Remember, the injunction is still in place, so every party is (presumably) gagged. Does that apply to the police too?
Powers of Arrest – Citizen’s Arrest
When the honours suspects were arrested I couldn’t quite see why they needed to be arrested at all. And this BBC website seems to confirm that it was a bit over-the-top in the cases of those particular individuals, as they were hardly likely to abscond! But, it seems that the police have wide powers of arrest, though you could have fooled some of us, when we watch some criminals being cautioned gently rather than arrested. The BBC site says:
“In reality, this means that the police have almost unlimited powers of arrest if they choose to exercise it. Unless you are carrying some kind of identity card, any offence could be regarded as arrestable.”
So, if they all had identity cards, and so could have confirmed their identity, perhaps they would not have been arrested!? I don’t think so somehow. The reason for the arrests had less to do with identification than with making some sort of statement, in my humble opinion.
The “citizen’s arrest” is something else which has aroused my interest. A BNP member’s website, from which I have quoted here, seems to be hinting at this legal process. (At least I THINK that’s what it’s hinting at!)
“To paraphrase another serial killer, George W. Bush, if we can’t bring Tony Blair to justice, we must bring justice to Tony Blair.”
Citizen’s Arrest – as on the BBC site
The police are not the only people with the power to make an arrest. Although there have been some highly publicised cases which suggest the power of the individual citizen is strictly limited, the law still recognises a citizen’s arrest. So a member of the public may arrest someone who is committing an arrestable offence such as theft or assault, or suspects that such an offence has been committed. They are allowed to use reasonable force in doing so.
What exactly is “reasonable force”? And is a citizen’s arrest limited to such as “theft or assault”, presumably in which someone is caught red-handed? If so, the Conspirators on this page, with their ideas of justice, can put their ‘cuffs away . By the way, how many “citizens’ arrests” are made annually in this country? If you have any idea, please let me know.
Thursday 8th February, 2007All leaks sorted! Wonder if the plumber will need to be called again any time soon?
Tuesday 6th February, 2007The CPS has said there is insufficient evidence to press charges on Des Smith, the headteacher questioned by police at the beginning of the whole sorry business.
Monday 5th February, 2007Leaks, leaks and yet more leaks.Somebody has a retention problem! The Times is today’s villain of the piece.
Saturday 4th February, 2007Iain Duncan Smith has gone up in my estimation. On Radio 4’s “Any Questions” he had the audacity to question the Police’s handling of this inquiry focusing so heavily as it has done, on the Prime Minister. Glad to see one member of parliament not afraid to raise his head above the parapet.At some stage in the future, perhaps we can expect more of this reasonable reaction from others. Come to think of it – I think that blond, mad but likable Tory – Boris Johnson said something about the length of time it is all taking on Andrew Neil’s sofa politics programme last night. You know, the one with Michael Portillo and Diane Abbott – This Week(?)So there you are then. I’m not the only one who’s noticed this police treatment of the PM as though he is beneath the law and can be treated any way, any how. So far the complainants have both been Conservatives! What’s going on here? Would they like Mr Blair to take over their party. Replace the Clone with Tone?
Friday 2nd February, 2007The police have released a statement backing up the Prime Minister’s stated reasons for the news blackout over his interview last Friday. It was at police request and for operational reasons.The Metropolitan Police issued a statement saying:
“The prime minister has been interviewed briefly to clarify points emerging from the ongoing investigation. He was interviewed as a witness, not as a suspect and co-operated fully.
“We requested the meeting was kept confidential for operational reasons. We are not prepared to discuss further.”
And in an interview with John Humphrys on Radio 4’s “Today” programme the PM touched on some of the questions of his authority raised by the continuing inquiry as well as on matters of policy which he would like to complete before his time in office is over.
Video & Audio Reports
Update to this – added 26 September, 2007.
This Humphrys interview below seems to have disappeared from the web! If anyone has a copy please let me know. In the meantime, listen to this report by the BBC’s Mark Sanders on the issue.
JH – “You could say, ‘I’m going to put an end to it’ … and then it wouldn’t be about Tony Blair the Prime Minister, would it? That’s the point. Why not stand down now?”
PM – “It’s not a very democratic way to decide who the prime minister is …”
JH – “You’ve already decided that, you’ve said that you’re going.” So why not stand down – why not put an end to it all?”
PM – “Because I don’t think that’s the right way to do it and I think it would be particularly wrong to do it before the inquiry has run its course … so you’ll have to put up with me a bit longer”.
TB – “I’m not going to beg for my character in front of anyone”.
Thursday 1st February, 2007BLACKOUT Order by PoliceThe PM’s second interview as a witness is now public knowledge. The interview took place last Friday, four days before that of Lord Levy. It is important that we understand that Scotland Yard insisted that the interview was to be kept secret until today for “operational reasons”. This blackout was not the Government’s or the Prime Minister’s choice. In fact, it seems that very few people knew about the interview, most of the PM’s staff included. Now I know the political climate is such that NOTHING concerning the PM is taken at face value. But if the Police made this confidential request, which they have confirmed today, Mr Blair can take none of the blame for this withholding of information.The press are making much of this, as you might expect. They feel their noses out of joint. They criticise the fact that the PM’s official spokesman did not tell them anything at the daily press briefings (though it is clear that he was also kept behind the Police blackout order).If the Police wanted knowledge of the interview kept back “for operational reasons” and they were subsequently “completely satisfied” with Mr Blair’s co-operation, the resultant press furore is perhaps evidence that even the Police realise the damage their extensive and extended inquiry is causing through news commentary.As to whether the goings-on have any underlying purpose from the Police’s viewpoint, I think the jury, no pun intended, is still out. I was expecting to read a statement by the Police as mentioned on No 10’s website today, but have as yet been unable to find one on The Met’s website, or elsewhere.Are the Police preparing the ground for an announcement that there will be no charges? Newsnight tonight raised this viewpoint as “from sources”. If so, their arguments could follow this line:“We interviewed the PM as a witness in December and then, (since the damage had already been done to his reputation – [ though I doubt if that was a concern of theirs] ) again last Friday. Our questions have been answered satisfactorily. The other chief suspects in this investigations have also answered all of our questions. We have done all we can and will provide the CPS with our (limited) information. It is then in the hands of the Crown Prosecution Service to decide if there is a case to answer. Our investigation can no longer be accused of interfering with the smooth running of government.”Click here to read more of my musings on the police handling of this investigation which has repercussions for all of us, not just those in the glare of the media spotlight.
Wednesday 31st January, 2007
No 10 Call For Media Restraint
Media (and presumably Police) expression of opinion has been called upon to restrain its opinion and comment in the light of the fact that those under the spotlight are unable to defend themselves.
Since I am one of the few who speak out in support of the government’s position I will happily go along with this, as soon as others do. In any case I do not have the readership of the dailies! At the moment I receive dozens of e-mail alerts from those convinced of pm/government guilt with each arrest or development. This includes national newspaper reports from anti-war / anti-Blair papers as well as bloggers and media reports on leaked snippets from Scotland Yard.
POLICE INQUIRIES – Terrorist Plots & Cash For Honours
Our police are the best in the world. I believe that implicitly and unreservedly. It still amazes many that we have an unarmed force (largely) in this day and age.
Sterling work is going on this morning in the Birmingham terror raids. Earlier today a security specialist commented on the news that the eight arrested might have been looking at different terror tactics than the usual bombings.
Since then the police have asked for restraint in speculation and analysis at this early stage. Fat chance of that! Perhaps police leaking of honour snippets is resulting in their protestations being largely ignored.
The earlier suggestion by SkyNews’s security specialist of, for example, political assassination, seems to be inaccurate. But the suspected plan of kidnapping a young Muslim soldier, possibly murdering him and then posting this act on the internet is still about as political as it gets!
And co-incidentally, Mr Blair’s historic announcement of elections in Northern Ireland in March, after ten years of work to secure peace, was all but overshadowed yesterday by Lord Levy’s arrest. A bitter sweet moment then for Mr Blair, and some backing for my thoughts on the present undermining of real politics by the relentless focus on No 10.
Here comes the “but” …
But, while the Police are protecting us all against terrorism there is some justification for wondering what judgement is compelling Scotland Yard to pursue so relentlessly this country’s government. Even if there is ever proved to be a case to answer, even a charge of “conspiracy to pervert the course of justice”, a much more serious criminal charge than the original inquiry focus, who does this drawn-out pursuit serve in the real interests of justice in this country?
Unless digging up the gardens at No 10 proves differently, this is a “victimless” crime. Is Yates of the Yard’s quest to show himself as “purer than pure” in his “… just following all the leads…” approach impeding his better judgement?
The reason I ask is that regardless of the particular party involved, and I am not a member of any party, it is our government and not just our governing party which is in danger of being seriously undermined or even collapse if this investigation drags out much longer.
John Yates, who is supposed to be above politics, has shown himself a dab hand at the political/pr spin business too. This morning a pre-recorded interview was used by the Radio 4 Today programme. Pre-recorded – thus no questions could be asked of him. Pre-recorded – when? Presumably in the full knowledge that Lord Levy would have been arrested by the time of the broadcast. In the meantime the Prime Minister, the Government and No 10 staff are unable to comment, for obvious reasons. No pre-recorded statements, leaks or running commentary for them as this story unfolds.
Nick Robinson remarked today that “rarely has Tony Blair been so unable to control events“. Smirkingly satisfying to some that might be. But I’d prefer to know that our elected government, whose day will come soon enough in the ballot box, are in control of the Police rather than the other way round. That’s why we elect them.
Yes, I realise the Police are stuck between the proverbials; damned if they do, damned if they don’t. But having started the whole investigation, perhaps unwisely, they either have enough proof to sustain their original suspicions or enough proof to push charges on a cover-up to those suspicions. It is time the CPS cast its eye over the Police evidence. Even if the CPS decides not to press charges, Inspector Yates will almost definitely have managed to secure long overdue changes to the country’s system of honours. Not a bad legacy for a policeman. And with the damage already added to Mr Blair’s legacy by this ongoing business, and considering Yates’ length of service in post, the Inspector’s mark on politics may compare favourably to the perceived legacy of the Prime Minister. Unjust? I think so.
It is time we permitted the government to get on with its job. Character assassinations by implication and threats of further arrests do not serve any of us well.