'Ten files of evidence' submitted in cash for honours inquiry

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Indy Politics

Ten files of evidence from Scotland Yard detectives investigating cash for honours have been submitted to prosecutors in a sign that the affair is now nearing its conclusion.

The Independent on Sunday can reveal that the Crown Prosecution Service has been helping the police devise questions to ask witnesses being questioned on suspicion of perverting the course of justice. The latest "submission" was made on the day of Tony Blair's recent interview by police, which is believed to have been taped by Scotland Yard.

Sources close to the investigation say that aides of Mr Blair are expected to be interviewed again. The police are understood to be examining "contradictory" evidence given by Labour figures in the inquiry.

Both Lord Levy and Ruth Turner have faced further questions to determine whether they tried to mislead or frustrate the investigation. Police are looking at whether their witness statements tally with those of John McTernan, Downing Street's director of political operations.

One source said inquiry members were looking at whether Labour figures had tried to cover their tracks in witness statements or had laid a false trail for police.

The IoS has also learnt that extra security measures have been imposed on the investigation to stop other police officers and journalists gaining access to top-secret information - such as the transcripts of the "Blair tapes".

One source said the inquiry is operating outside the police's main computer system to prevent hacking. No officers outside the inquiry are allowed in the room where it is taking place. It is believed phones were checked for bugs, and files are kept away from the rest of the force and under lock and key.

"Can you imagine how much the Tony Blair interview tapes would fetch?" said one officer. "They are being really secretive about what they are doing. It's an unprecedented level of security."

Mr Blair said in a speech to Labour activists yesterday that the cash-for-honours affair was embarrassing. But he expressed optimism that the election would "not be decided by current events".

He faced fresh pressure, though, to name a date for his departure. Jon Cruddas, a candidate in Labour's deputy leadership contest, will tell Mr Blair today to go: "The page has turned, it's time to move on." One MP, after listening to the PM's speech, claimed he was "in denial". "This is doing serious and lasting damage," he said. "We don't need men in grey suits, we need men in white coats."

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