July 19, 2007 / 10:56 PM / 13 years ago

No charges reported after "cash for honours" probe

LONDON (Reuters) - No one will be charged with the illegal sale of state honours as a result of a police enquiry that dogged former Prime Minister Tony Blair’s last months in office, media reported on Thursday.

Special Envoy of Middle East Tony Blair attends the Quartet of Middle East mediators meeting at Belem Cultural Center in Lisbon July 19, 2007. o one will be charged with the illegal sale of state honours as a result of a police enquiry that dogged former Prime Minister Tony Blair's last months in office, media reports said on Thursday. REUTERS/Jose Manuel Ribeiro

Police completed their probe three months ago and handed their findings to the Crown Prosecution Service, which has to decide whether to press charges.

Media said the CPS would announce on Friday its decision not to bring criminal charges.

A CPS spokeswoman declined to comment on the reports.

“The decision-making process is ongoing. We have no timing on a decision. If journalists wish to call us tomorrow morning that is entirely up to you,” she told Reuters. “Anything being reported is speculation.”

Blair was interviewed as a witness three times during the “cash for honours” enquiry, which lasted 16 months and cost one million pounds.

It was the first time a serving British prime minister had been questioned in a criminal investigation.

The enquiry damaged his reputation — already battered by the Iraq war — and many observers believed it contributed to the pressure from his party to leave office early. Blair stood down last month after 10 years as prime minister.

The police probe focused on whether political parties had nominated wealthy supporters for state honours, giving them seats in the House of Lords, in return for loans.

Police interviewed a total of 136 people as witnesses and suspects.

Angus MacNeil, the Scottish Nationalist parliamentarian whose allegations triggered the police enquiry in March 2006, described the press reports as “extraordinary” and said that, if true, the CPS decision left many questions unanswered.

Key Blair ally and Labour Party fundraiser Michael Levy emerged as a main focus of the enquiry along with close Blair aide Ruth Turner and wealthy Labour backer Christopher Evans.

Levy, who stepped down with Blair on June 27, was first arrested in July 2006 as part of the party funding probe and again in January this year on suspicion of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. He was released on bail each time.

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