13/07/2006

MPs briefed on Lord Levy arrest

Deputy Assistant Commissioner John Yates has told MPs this morning that the arrest of Lord Levy for questioning is not a "symbolic" gesture.

Lord Levy, 61, the Labour Party's chief fundraiser, was arrested by police investigating allegations of "cash for peerages", but he was later released on bail pending further inquiries. Police confirmed this morning that Lord Levy had answered bail and was being questioned further.

In a statement Lord Levy, a close personal friend of Labour Party leader Tony Blair, "vigorously" denied any wrongdoing and claimed that the arrest was "totally unnecessary".

Mr Yates, quizzed by MPs from the Commons public administration committee, has revealed that material on what are reported two submissions have been sent to the Crown prosecution service for their consideration.

MPs were told that 48 people had been questioned by police and that 11 had been cautioned.

As police investigations continue, it is widely speculated that police may want to question the prime minister about the alleged cash for peerages.

Tory shadow home secretary David Davies said: "It must be very worrying for Mr Blair."

Police are investigating claims by Scottish National Party leader that honours had been exchanged for loans and donations to the Labour Party.

A police investigation is in progress into the loans amounting to £14 million.

MPs, who had asked the police for the briefing before the summer recess of parliament, are not expecting to be given specific details of the case, but a more general briefing on the progress of the inquiry.

(SP/GB)

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