Wednesday, 25 July 2007

No charges over Cash for Honours

The CPS seem to have made some errors - that's the charitable interpretation at least. As I understand the legal situation, the decision not to proceed - based it seems largely on the opinion of David Perry QC - is an executive decision not made under royal prerogative, and as such is open to judicial review on grounds of, among other things, irrationality. Let's hope someone with expertise in these things will make an application. Although a well-known silk has advised me that it's not very likely to succeed, it'd be intereting to hear all the evidence - just as it would be if Levy were to sue for wrongful arrest (as if!) CPS decision: "Cash For Honours" case - explanatory document Here are 5 deficiencies in the published explanation: 1. The fact that no-one had complained of receiving an offer is incorrectly taken as ruling out the possibility of charges based on such an offer (pa 24). This position is even more absurd given that anyone accepting such an offer is extremely unlikely to report it to the police. 2. The possibility of an agreement is, by contrast, considered (pa 24) - even though any agreement would almost certainly involve an offer, and an agreement is therefore less likely to have occurred, and in every non-bizarre case more difficult to establish, than a mere offer. 3. A substantive requirement that such an offer must be 'unambiguous' is incorrectly introduced out of nowhere (pa 23). This is a red herring. Either there was such an offer or there wasn't. It might be 'ambiguous' but still in the circumstances clearly an offer of the kind prohibited. Ambiguity might even be evidence of deliberate subterfuge and thereby dishonesty. 4. It was stated that there was strong evidence of 'proper reasons for the inclusion of all those whose names appeared on the 2005 working peers list' and that 'each was a credible candidate for a peerage'. (pa 29) This is either untrue or misleading, given that the Appointments Commission disagreed in the cases of three of the four donors (but none of the other, non-donor, appointees), ruling them clearly unsuitable even before it knew about the loans. See BBC NEWS | Politics | The Lords suitability question 5. The CPSs paraphrases the relevant Sale of Honours Act provisions as requiring that the loans, to be illegal, would have to be 'an inducement or reward for procuring, or assisting or endeavouring to procure, the grant of a dignity or title of honour' (pa 16). This ignores the catch-all provision: "or otherwise in connection with [the grant of a dignity or title of honour to any person]". The catch-all alone makes a total nonsense of the analysis offered by the CPS. Another dubious decision has been reported: "the investigation effectively stalled after a diary kept by Sir Christopher Evans, allegedly detailing a series of meetings with Lord Levy, Tony Blair's chief fundraiser, was ruled inadmissible by lawyers considering the case". See Four more names emerge in cash for honours case | Special Reports | Guardian Unlimited Politics. There is no need to rely on the diary as evidence. Evans could simply be subpoenaed and examined on the matter. Furthermore, as I understand the matter - though I am no expert - the diary would be admissable as evidence of his unreliability should he (rather improbably I would have thought - ) choose to deny that the events it describes took place.