06 November, 2006

Cash for honours: Goldsmith's conflict of interest.

UK prime minister, Tony Blair is beginning to feel the heat over the police investigation that he sold honours in exchange for cash donations to his perpetually hard-up Labour Party. In the Guardian, David Hencke says the case is "fast approaching its denouement".

Hencke notes the suprise in Downing Street that the investigation has gone so far, after an intital belief that it was "just a political stunt, not much short of a joke, and the police were merely going through the motions." That is how most observers, myself included, read it at the onset. However, we have all been surprised by the diligence with which John Yates, Metropolitan Police deputy assistant commissioner, has conducted the investigation. If only the they could always be so thorough.

Blair might get off the hook yet. When the police investigation is complete, the attorney general, Lord Goldsmith, will be responsible for advising the Crown Prosecution Service on how to proceed. Lord Goldsmith is an old chum of the prime minister. He has donated cash to the Labour party and was elevated to the Houses of Lords by Blair. Despite the obvious conflict of interest, Goldsmith is adamant that he will not withdraw from the case and that he will give official legal advice on whether his old pal should be prosecuted. The political row over Goldsmith's probity, or alleged lack thereof, is gathering momentum.

Well, what is the point of doing favours for somebody if you cannot call in the marker?

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