Leading article: Help us with our inquiries, Mr Blair

Share

The Prime Minister will no doubt say today that he cannot comment on the suggestion that he tried to sell peerages. As we report, that did not prevent him meeting Sir Gulam Noon, one of the millionaire lenders he unsuccessfully nominated to the House of Lords. It can only be assumed that one of Tony Blair's purposes was to try to minimise the political damage caused by the affair.

The ongoing police investigation should not be used as an excuse to avoid legitimate questions. The important facts are well known, because they have been reported - especially by The Independent on Sunday. The purpose of the inquiry is to establish whether anyone has been foolish enough to cross the line from the simply reprehensible to the unlawful, by breaking the 1925 Honours (Prevention of Abuses) Act, which bans the sale of peerages.

We know that, with Mr Blair's approval, millions of pounds were raised in secret loans for Labour's election campaign last year - exploiting a loophole in another law. Many of those millions were raised with the possibility in mind that the lenders would be raised to the peerage. This connection was probably never made explicit. It is, as Mr Blair's tiny band of defenders point out, how British governments have long conducted themselves.

The Prime Minister was therefore in the hypocritical position of trying to get round the very safeguards of the new, cleaner politics for which he tried to claim credit. Not only did he avoid the requirement to disclose donations by having Lord Levy encourage people to make loans instead, but he sought to keep this information from the independent commission he set up to vet nominations to the House of Lords.

One question that Tony Blair needs to answer, not just to police officers but to the nation, is how Labour's chief fundraiser came to be advising the party's donors on filling in the forms needed for nomination to the peerage. If the Prime Minister nominated Sir Gulam, Chai Patel, Barry Townsley and Sir David Garrard to the House of Lords for reasons independent of their financial generosity to his party, why was Lord Levy involved?

At some point, either as part of the police investigation or afterwards, Mr Blair will have both to explain and apologise. It might as well be today.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Recruitment Consultant / Account Manager - Surrey / SW London

£40000 per annum + realistic targets: Ashdown Group: A thriving recruitment co...

Ashdown Group: Part-time Payroll Officer - Yorkshire - Professional Services

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful professional services firm is lo...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Nicola Sturgeon could have considerable influence over David Cameron in a hung parliament  

General Election 2015: What if Cameron were to end up in hock to the SNP?

Steve Richards
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before