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Last Updated: Sunday, 22 April 2007, 13:20 GMT 14:20 UK
Honours probe talk 'not helpful'
Lord Goldsmith
Lord Goldsmith said there was no need for a formal inquiry
It would be "worth looking" at who has been briefing the media over the cash-for-honours investigation, the attorney general has said.

Lord Goldsmith told Sky News that "some talking" had been going on and this was "not helpful".

There is concern police may have leaked details, which Scotland Yard denies.

Police are investigating claims that honours were exchanged for loans to Labour. All involved in the inquiry deny any wrongdoing.

'Serious wrongdoing'

Lord Goldsmith said that "obviously some talking is going on" and it was "not helpful".

He added that once the case was over "it would be worth looking at just what has taken place". But he ruled out a formal inquiry.

Last week the BBC learned that the Crown Prosecution Service is to assess evidence of "serious wrongdoing" in the cash-for-honours affair.

A 216-page file was handed over by detectives from the Metropolitan Police to the CPS on Friday.

When I lodged the complaint, it was said that the police would turn a blind eye, but what we have had is a meticulous investigation
Angus MacNeil

Prosecutors will decide whether anyone should be charged over claims that honours were given in return for money.

Tony Blair and some of his closest aides have been questioned during the 13-month investigation.

The probe, led by Assistant Commissioner of the Met Police, John Yates, has widened in recent months to look into any attempt to pervert the course of justice.

Scotland Yard said 136 people had been interviewed. All deny wrongdoing.

Shadow home secretary David Davis told Sky he did not want to see Lord Goldsmith take the decision over whether prosecutions were brought.

He said: "I don't actually think he should take the decision. He is a politician and he is a peer, he was made a peer by Tony Blair.

"None of that is wrong but he should not be involved in this decision. It should be made independently by members of the Crown Prosecution Service."

He added: "What I don't want to see is a politically driven timetable for these decisions."

Mr Davis went on: "There should a decision pretty soon now and there's no argument for a delay."

The police inquiry began after it emerged that secret loans had been made to Labour before the 2005 general election, and that some lenders had subsequently been nominated for peerages.

Questioning

The probe was widened to include the other main parties.

Four people have been questioned under caution during the course of the inquiry, including Tony Blair's chief fundraiser Lord Levy, Downing Street aide Ruth Turner and Labour party donor, biotech chief Sir Christopher Evans.

The first man arrested, head teacher Des Smith, has been told he will not face any charges. The others remain on police bail.

There has only ever been one prosecution involving the law at the centre of the inquiry - the 1925 Honours (Prevention of Abuses) Act - so it could take some time to decide whether to press ahead with a prosecution.

That decision will be made by Carmen Dowd, the head of the CPS's special crime division.

In a statement, the CPS said it had received the file and that the police would be told of the decision "in due course".




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