20/07/2007

Blair 'pleased' by honours inquiry ruling

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair has said that he is "very pleased" by the news that the cash-for-honours inquiry has ended with no charges being brought.

Mr Blair said that those involved in the inquiry had faced a "traumatic time" and said: "Much of what has been written and said about them has been deeply unfair and I am very pleased for all of them that it is now over."

The Crown Prosecution Service confirmed on Friday that no charges would be brought over the investigation.

An investigation was launched following a complaint made by Scottish National Party MP Angus MacNeil alleging that four wealthy Labour supporters had been nominated for peerages after making loans to the party.

More than 130 people were questioned during the course of the 16-month inquiry, including former Prime Minister Tony Blair, who was questioned three times as a potential witness - the first sitting prime minister to be interviewed by police during the course of a criminal investigation.

Four people were also arrested - Labour fundraiser Lord Levy, Downing Street aide Ruth Turner, biotech tycoon and Labour donor Sir Christopher Evans and Des Smith, a former teacher who had advised the government on the academy school programme.

The inquiry was also widened to cover loans to the Conservative party, as well as other political parties.

Ms Turner said that the CPS' announcement was an "enormous relief", while Lord Levy echoed her comments, describing the ruling as a "great relief".

Prime Minister Gordon Brown said that he hoped that the CPS' statement would bring an end to "months of speculation".

(KMcA/JM)




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