Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Cash for Honours Scandal: More Arrests Expected; FIRST LEVY, NOW SENIOR OFFICIALS AT NUMBER 10 ARE FACING QUESTIONING BY DETECTIVES

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Cash for Honours Scandal: More Arrests Expected; FIRST LEVY, NOW SENIOR OFFICIALS AT NUMBER 10 ARE FACING QUESTIONING BY DETECTIVES

Article excerpt

Byline: JOE MURPHY

THE "cash for honours" scandal today looked set to trigger more arrests of Labour figures from the Prime Minister's inner circle of advisors.

Whitehall insiders say police will interview, under caution, a series of people whose roles may link secret loans to Labour with nominations for peerages.

The police inquiry is focusing on several officials at No 10 and former Labour Party officials who were in touch with donors later nominated for peerages.

Among officials at the centre of events was Ruth Turner, director of government relations at No 10, who contacted several donors and informed them they were being recommended by Tony Blair for seats in the Lords.

She and John McTernan, director of political operations, asked former chairman Ian McCartney to sign documents denying any financial conflict in the nominations while he was in hospital.

The development follows the arrest of Mr Blair's fundraiser Lord Levy and comes amid reports the Prime Minister himself will be questioned under caution in the criminal investigation.

In a febrile atmosphere at Westminster, Labour MPs admitted the Government was in crisis. Early claims from No 10 sources that the police were merely "grandstanding" died away as the potential implications set in.

Tony Wright, the Labour chairman of the public administration committee which was privately meeting chief police investigator John Yates, admitted: "It certainly makes it clear that the police investigation is serious."

Downing Street was determined to ignore the humiliation of Mr Blair's inner circle being investigated for allegedly selling honours in breach of the 1925 Honours (Prevention of Abuses) Act, an offence carrying up to two years' imprisonment.

Labour's Left wing tried to exploit the crisis but there was no hint of disloyalty from the more heavyweight figures in the Cabinet. …

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