SO the knock on the door of 10 Downing Street finally came at the precise moment that the long–awaited report of the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, was released. The ”good day to bury bad news” syndrome again? Who knows, with a government that probably cannot even recognise when it is spinning, so routine has the practice become. Mr Blair was questioned by the police about cash–for–honours only as a witness and was not cautioned or arrested, but he became the first serving prime minister to be interviewed in connection with a criminal investigation. Afterwards a No 10 spokesman said: ”The Prime Minister nominated each of the four businessmmen as party leader in respect of the peerages reserved for party supporters as other party leaders do. The honours were not, therefore, for public service but expressly party peerages for party service. In these circumstances the fact that they had supported the party financially could not conceivably be a barrier to their nomination.” Mr Blair clearly intends to rely on this defence, but at some point he will surely be asked to identify what specific ITAL/party/ services these individual undertook beyond making handsome donations. It has been reported that one of them was actually a Conservative supporter. Additionally Mr Blair will still need to explain how much he knew of the tactics of his chief fund–raiser, Lord Levy, who asked one of the donors to disguise his munificence as a loan.


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