Fri, Feb 02, 2007 - Page 6 News List

Police question Blair as witness in scandal probe


Police questioned British Prime Minister Tony Blair for a second time over allegations that political honors were traded for cash, Blair's official spokesman said yesterday.

Blair was interviewed last Friday as a witness and not under caution, Blair's office said. Police confirmed that they requested details be kept secret for "operational reasons," but did not elaborate.

The prime minister was "interviewed briefly to clarify points emerging from the ongoing investigation," London's Metropolitan Police said in a statement.

"He was interviewed as a witness, not as a suspect and cooperated fully," the statement said.

Police are investigating allegations that honors, including seats in the House of Lords and knighthoods, were given to individuals who loaned money to Blair's Labour Party or the main opposition Conservatives.

Blair was questioned at his office before he left London to travel to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, his office said.

"At the request of the police, this was kept utterly confidential," the prime minister's spokesman told reporters at a daily briefing. He speaks to the media only on condition of anonymity.

The spokesman, who told reporters on Wednesday there had been no new police interview, said Blair's press and communications unit were not informed until late on Wednesday.

Police said in a statement that the interview was "kept confidential for operational reasons," but refused to disclose details.

Blair's spokesman said that the interview had taken less than 60 minutes and confirmed that the prime minister had not been accompanied by a lawyer.

However, Blair was not interviewed "under caution," meaning it is unlikely he is suspected of committing offenses.

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