TIMELINE - Cash-for-honours investigation

Fri Jul 20, 2007 3:55pm BST

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(Reuters) - British prosecutors announced on Friday they would not file charges after a 16-month police inquiry into alleged political corruption that overshadowed former Prime Minister Tony Blair's last months in office.

Here is a chronology of the main events in the so-called "cash-for-honours" probe.

2006

March 8 - Healthcare entrepreneur Chai Patel protests to the vetting committee for appointments to the Lords, after his nomination for a seat, or peerage, is blocked. It emerges he lent Labour 1.5 million pounds.

March 16 - Labour Treasurer Jack Dromey says he has been "kept in the dark" over undeclared loans. Blair promises to change party funding rules in a bid to quell the growing row.

March 17 - Labour Party says it has received 14 million pounds in previously undeclared loans from individuals.

March 21 - Police say they are investigating Labour to find out whether it offered peerages to businessmen in exchange for loans. They say they have received three complaints about Labour under section 1 of the Honours Act 1925, which makes it illegal to sell state honours.

April 13 - Des Smith, a former adviser on Blair's flagship schools programme, is arrested in connection with the inquiry. He is released on bail pending further inquiries.

July 12 - Lord Michael Levy is arrested. Levy, Blair's personal Middle East envoy and chief fundraiser, denies any wrongdoing.

September 21 - Christopher Evans, founder of biotechnology company Merlin Biosciences, is the third person arrested. All three are released on bail without charge and deny wrongdoing.

October 23 - Police question Michael Howard, former leader of the opposition Conservatives, about the scandal.

November 16 - Police say they hope to send evidence to prosecutors in January. They say they have interviewed 90 people and have obtained "significant and valuable" material.

November 22 - Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt becomes first serving member of the cabinet to be questioned, as a witness not a suspect. Police subsequently question most other members of Blair's 2005 cabinet as witnesses.

December 14 - Blair is interviewed as a witness, becoming the first serving British prime minister to be interviewed by police in a criminal investigation.

2007

January 19 - Ruth Turner, director of government relations in Blair's office, is arrested on suspicion of perverting the course of justice and released without charge.

January 26 - Blair is interviewed a second time.

January 30 - Lord Levy is arrested for a second time, this time on suspicion of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice and released without charge.

February 6 - Prosecutors say there is not enough evidence to charge Des Smith.

April 20 - Police send 216 page file to Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) after interview 136 people either as witnesses or suspects. CPS now decides whether charges should be brought.

June 27 - Blair steps down as prime minister, handing over power to long-serving finance minister Gordon Brown.

June 28 - Media say Blair has been questioned for a third time by London detectives investigating allegations of illegal political party funding. Officials will not confirm it.

July 20 - Prosecutors say they will not file any charges.

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