Anorak News | Making Them Pay

Making Them Pay

by | 13th, July 2006

ANYONE for tennis? We hear that Cliff Richard has a pretty decent backhand? Perhaps he can be Tony Blair’s new tennis partner now that his old one, Lord Levy, has been pinched?

While we look forward to seeing Tony and Cliff at the same place at the same time, the Times has a front-page picture of Lord Levy behind the wheel of his car.

The man described as the “Prime Minister’s personal fundraiser” and nicknamed “Lord Cashpoint”, has been arrested in the “cash-for-peerages” scandal.

Having been questioned for several hours at a London police station, Levy was later released. He has not been charged and does not expect to be, as he has committed no offence. He vigorously denies any wrongdoing," says his spokesman, as reported in the Telegraph. Lord Levy says police used their powers of arrest “totally unnecessarily”.

Of course this all remains to be seen. As the paper’s Tim Hames says, the Honours (Prevention of Abuses) Act 1925 “makes it illegal to promise an honour in return for a party contribution”. But, as he notes, “It does not, wisely, try to legislate against nods and winks.”

Just looking at the date of that legislation tells us that there is nothing new in the idea of cash-for-peerages. But there is something new in the arrest. (The only other person to have been arrested under the Act was Des Smith in 1925. He was released on police bail.)

It’s hard to not to see the word “arrested” and be excited. Writing in the Guardian, Jonathan Freedland writes: “Once the word "arrest" is uttered, a scandal enters a new, and much graver, category.”

He’s right, of course. And he’s right again to point out that the Opposition will be delighted that Lord Levy was arrested and not just questioned.

“Let me begin by saying that I have no objection at all to the decision to arrest Lord Levy,” writes Tory MP Boris Johnson in the Telegraph.

“As far as I am concerned, the whole lot of them deserve to have their collars felt. If the cops decide to launch dawn raids on all the other arch-toadies of the regime, they will find many of us prepared to hold their coats.”

How very useful of him. And Johnson’s offer doubtless includes holding Tony Blair’s hairy coat – as the paper says, the Prime Minister might yet be questioned by the police as Lord Levy reported directly to him.

Now that would be exciting. And something many of would pay – or make a donation to the Labour Party – to see…

Posted: 13th, July 2006 | In: Uncategorized Comment | TrackBack | Permalink