Be you ever so high… no-one is above the law…

Cash for Honours…

I woke at 3.00 am to find a very clear statement by the CPS on the matter of the “Cash for Honours” case waiting for me in my in-box. That the CPS has taken the step to issue a clear statement on this matter is testament to the interest which the decision not to prosecute will generate in the press and other media.

The full CPS statement may be read here.

The fourth estate may well thunder, opine and rant. Politicians may well take partisan positions, but the fact of the matter, as explained in the CPS Explanatory Statement, is that there was insufficient evidence to proceed with a prosecution and, therefore, the issue of public interest did not have to be considered.

To summarise I have taken relevant extracts from the CPS Explanatory Statement.

1. Para 1: The CPS “was advised by a team of independent counsel, led by David Perry QC. The Director of Public Prosecutions played no part in the decision-making process”

2. Para 22: “A decision whether or not to prosecute is a two stage process. First, consideration must be given to whether there is a realistic prospect of conviction (‘the evidential test’). Secondly, if (and only if) it is decided that a realistic prospect of conviction exists, consideration must then be given to whether a prosecution is in the public interest (‘the public interest test’)”

3. Para 23: “As will be clear from paragraphs 13 to 17 above, an offence is committed if an unambiguous offer of a gift, etc, in exchange for an honour, is either made or solicited by one person to or from another, even if that other person refuses either to accept or to make such an offer; or one person agrees with another to make/accept a gift, etc, specifically in exchange for an honour.”

4. Para 24: “There is nothing in the circumstances of this case to suggest that the first of these routes to the offence has been taken.”

5. Para 29: “… the CPS is satisfied beyond doubt that the available evidence is not sufficient to enable an overwhelming inference to be drawn, such as to afford a realistic prospect of convicting any person for any offence contrary to Section 1 of the 1925 Act.”

6. Para 30: “In relation to possible breaches of the 2000 Act, we are satisfied that we cannot exclude the possibility that any loans made – all of which were made following receipt by the Labour Party of legal advice – can properly be characterised as commercial”.

7. Para 31: “In relation to any events which might have been interpreted as acts tending and intended to pervert the course of public justice, we are satisfied that the weight of the evidence that has now been considered does not support that suggestion. There is therefore no realistic prospect of conviction in respect of the offence of perverting the course of public justice against any individuals.”

I have no expertise in criminal law, but it is an interest I keep up – and my post is made on that premise. The CPS will not reveal the confidential advice given. Para 4: “It is not our practice to publish such advice, particularly where it analyses in great detail the conduct of named persons against whom no criminal proceedings can properly be brought.”

Interestingly in para 32, the CPS statement ends with – “the conclusions reached by the CPS are the result of independent and professional judgment, following a thorough and professional investigation by the police. Extraneous considerations such as political or public opinion have played no part in the analysis, nor have they played any part in the decision making.”

Of course, as Simon Myerson QC has pointed out in the comments section on an earlier post: “A reaction which says ‘he got away with it because I don’t like the decision so he just must have done’ is neither sensible nor compelling. The proposition is that the CPS have been ‘got at’ or that the decision is corrupt. Those are serious allegations, so let those prepared to make them say what the evidence is. Otherwise, forgive me, they should shut up – no”

Victorian Maiden, over at Ruthie’s Law – has an interesting and amusing analysis on this, albeit in Victorian language. It is thought by Geeklawyer that Victorian Maiden is a real silk, which may well turn out to be the case given the precision of knowledge on posts so far, and if you would like to read a bit of grovelling and sycophancy from Geeklawyer – you may do so here!

The full statement from the CPS

After exercising my brain on matters of law and not wishing, in any way, to turn my blawg into a real law blawg by writing too much law (I like Simon Myerson QC’s description of my blawg as a ‘discursive / gossip blawg’) I feel I am now able to post some complete and utter nonsense, in contra-distinction to the above, later in the day without guilt. I shall, no doubt, do so.

So… what are the papers saying:

Guardian: “Blair aides attack Police inquiry”

Labour angry that investigation undermined authority of government – Lord Levy venting a fraction of his anger – Blair came close to resigning when told by Yates that he intended to interview the PM under caution. Yates backed down after representations by Cabinet Office – Gordon Brown, anxious to draw the matter to a close, defended the police – Despite Blair calling for restraint Mandelson gets angry – Police disappointed – Yates now likely to face three inquiries: Internal metropolitian Police and two external: Metropolitan Police Authority and Commons public administration select committee.

Angus Robertson, the SNP leader in Westminster, claimed: “The idea that the Metropolitan police … is a branch of the SNP is utterly preposterous.”

Times: Relief swiftly turns to anger as MPs confirm that police will be questioned.

Independent: End of investigation greeted with relief and recrimination

The Mirror: Bush has third test on Colon

Well… there we are. Soon I will be down on the high street sipping espressos and smoking Silk Cut. A bit of bacon, eggs and beans today – with the egg, as usual, on the right hand side of the plate.

***

UPDATE: Saturday 21st July 2007 23.40 pm

 

I am grateful to Jailhouselawyer (See comments)  for pointing out that Guido Fawkes has proposed a private prosecution.  Here is the link 

11 thoughts on “Be you ever so high… no-one is above the law…

  1. Pingback: Friday cocktail… « Charon QC…the blawg

  2. Vickram Dodd of the Grauniad opines: ‘Something stinks, nobody’s quite sure what’.

    Might I suggest it is bullshit?

    The political decision not to prosecute was taken by the former Attorney General, Lord Goldsmith, before he left office, and he appointed David Perry QC, and he followed his instructions.

    Applying Wednesbury, I note in your “relevant extracts” that you have failed to take into account the following relevant paragraph.

    Para 30. “In relation to possible breaches of the 2000 Act, we are satisfied that we cannot exclude the possibility that any loans made – all of which were made following receipt by the Labour Party of legal advice – can properly be characterised as commercial”.

    In my considered opinion, there is sufficient evidence to bring prosecutions in a legal sense. However, this would not suit the politicians therefore a political decision was reached not to prosecute. It follows that there are some above the law.

  3. Thanks for pointing out the ommission. I have added paras 30 and 31 to ‘relevant extracts’

    I refer you to Simon Myerson QC’s point in an earlier post on the matter (which I have now included in the main post): “A reaction which says ‘he got away with it because I don’t like the decision so he just must have done’ is neither sensible nor compelling. The proposition is that the CPS have been ‘got at’ or that the decision is corrupt. Those are serious allegations, so let those prepared to make them say what the evidence is. Otherwise, forgive me, they should shut up – no”

  4. In response to Simon Myerson QC’s corrupt decision, BAE/Saudi decision not to prosecute and Goldsmith’s change of advice to suit Tony Blair’s decision to go to war with Iraq. There needs to be a separation of powers here, it cannot be right that someone appointed by the Labour Party decides whether the Labour Party has done something wrong.

    It is being suggested on Guido that there ought to be a private prosecution.

    I favour a private law action in misfeasance in public office.

  5. Jailhouselawyer – thank you for the link. I am always interested in your take on matters where we blog on similar subjects and I read Guido Fawkes every day.

    I have updated the post. We live in interesting times. You will note, of course, that I simply stated the facts as I read them this morning. I am not expert in these matters, but it is a most interesting matter and I am keeping a watch on developments.

  6. I won £3,000 on a misfeasance in public office claim against a prison governor for 28 days unlawful segregation. Firstly, I sought a judicial review under public law to quash the said decision. Then I lodged a private law claim. I sought £5,000, and the Treasury Solictor paid in £3,000 and I grabbed it and ran…

  7. Simon Myerson QC’comments may be dismissed on on the short ground that what may be regarded as sensible or compelling in the eyes of the lawyer is completely devoid of meaning to the ordinary man or woman for whom such decisions lack conviction when taken by office holders directly connected with those who appointed them. Ordinary people are entitled, and indeed justified in applying such inferences, as appear to them, to be proper in assessing what, if any, value or weight is to be attached to the decisions arrived at by such people. Mr Myerson may wish to take his head out of his arse!

  8. Now apparently there is more evidence. Or so plod says. On a list for future honours were the names of a further 8 individuals who made generous *loans* to the Labour Party. They did not in the event get the honour immediately but it is no doubt on the way. OT: Presumably the LP will shortly announce the details of the prepayments of these *loans*.

  9. As to the misfeasance in public office – I should have prefaced my assertion that it provides almost unsurmountable evidentiary burdens; certainly in the absence of pecuniary advantage – with the words – *in a proper case*.

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