Cash-for-honours headteacher: 'I want Blair to be arrested and locked up in a cell'

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Indy Politics

A suspect in the cash-for-honours inquiry has launched a bitter attack on Tony Blair, calling for him to be arrested and thrown into a cell.

Des Smith, a retired headteacher who was arrested after appearing to offer honours in return for school funding, spoke out against his treatment by the Government. Mr Smith, 60, vigorously protests his innocence after he was trapped in an undercover newspaper investigation into links between the schools academy programme and honours.

In an emotional interview with the Mail on Sunday, Mr Smith compares himself to David Kelly, the government weapons scientist who killed himself in 2003. Disclosing details of his arrest on April 13 this year, Mr Smith said: "If the police are determined to treat everyone equally and be even-handed, a cosy chat at Chequers with Tony Blair will not do. My experience was dehumanising and designed to reduce me to my bare essentials. The Prime Minister must be treated the same way."

Mr Smith resigned as a consultant to the Government's City Academy programme after appearing to suggest that those who funded the new schools could expect honours. He did so to an undercover reporter from The Sunday Times, saying that funding "one or two" schools would secure an "OBE, a CBE or a knighthood", while those backing five or more "could expect to go to the House of Lords".

Mr Smith says that he was exaggerating his role to impress an attractive woman, had never met Tony Blair or "heard anyone talk about honours". But the former east London headteacher was shocked at how quickly and comprehensively he was disowned by senior Labour ministers: "John Reid was the first to be put on my case. 'We don't know this guy. He is not a member of the Labour Party,' he said. I felt that was unnecessary. [David] Miliband also disowned me, saying he's not 'my mate'."

Detectives then knocked on his door in Wanstead this April at 7.20am to tell him he was being arrested under the 1925 Honours Act. They told him that he could go upstairs and get dressed, but he should not try and jump out of a window. Taken to Stoke Newington police station in northeast London, he was held in a cell for eight hours and interrogated for two more.

During his interview he was shown a "gong list" of 43 people nominated by Labour for honours and asked what he knew about each. He remembers that the list included Sir David Garrard and Barry Townley - both of whom secretly loaned Labour money and were nominated for peerages by Mr Blair.

Mr Smith was warned not to return to his home as it was besieged by reporters and camera crews. He describes a descent into alcohol abuse and depression that saw him arrested for drink driving. Mr Smith is still under police bail and must return to Stoke Newington police station this Tuesday to find out his fate over the honours inquiry. He claims to be an innocent man caught up in a political scandal not of his making.

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