Associates of former British prime minister Tony Blair who were arrested during a lengthy police investigation of political funding will not face charges, the Crown Prosecution Service said yesterday.
Drawing an end to the probe that clouded Blair's last year in office, senior prosecutor Carmen Dowd said there was insufficient evidence to support the prosecution of anyone in the case.
"This investigation has ended as I always expected it would," Blair said in a statement released to the media.
"Those involved have been through a terrible, even traumatic time. Much of what has been written and said about them has been deeply unfair, and I am very pleased for all of them that it is now over," he said.
Dowd, who heads the agency's Special Crime Division, said she had considered charges under 1925 legislation banning the sale of honors such as knighthoods and seats in the House of Lords, offenses of perverting the course of justice and violations of the Political Parties and Referendums Act.
"Having considered all of the evidence in this case I have decided that there is insufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction against any individual," she said, reading a statement.
The 15-month investigation followed a complaint by Scottish National Party legislator Angus MacNeil alleging that several individuals had agreed to make substantial loans to the Labour Party on the understanding that they would be made members of the House of Lords.
The probe begun in March last year later broadened to include the possibility of a cover-up.
News of the prosecutors' decision leaked out Thursday night, to the relief of Blair's associates.
"I think my face tells how I feel," a beaming Lord Levy, Blair's former fund raiser who was arrested twice during the police investigation, told reporters yesterday morning.
Blair became the first serving prime minister to be interviewed by police in a criminal investigation, though he was questioned as a witness, not a suspect.
POINT-BLANK RANGE: Reporters and camera people from several outlets say police officers in Minneapolis had fired tear gas and rubber bullets directly at them Multiple journalists on the ground in Minnesota said they were teargassed and subject to other attacks by police on Saturday evening, a day after the widely condemned arrest of a CNN reporter live on air. Los Angeles Times journalist Molly Hennessy-Fiske, who was reporting outside the Fifth Precinct in Minneapolis, said she was with a group of about a dozen journalists when the Minnesota State Patrol “fired tear gas canisters on us at point blank range.” “I was saying: ‘Where do we go?’ They did not tell us where to go. They didn’t direct us. They just fired on us,” she said
For nearly a decade, the UN Security Council has been frequently paralyzed by Russia’s obstinacy over the Syrian crisis. Today, however, it is the US-China rivalry that has infected a growing array of issues, according to officials and diplomats. As recently as 2017, an understanding between Washington and Beijing allowed the UN on three occasions — involving separate sets of economic sanctions — to project international unity in the face of the North Korean nuclear threat. Three years later, the COVID-19 pandemic has seen a ferocious competition erupt between the UN’s two main contributors, prompting UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on May
HISTORIC FLIGHT: The astronauts named their capsule ‘Endeavour,’ after the space shuttle on which they both flew, while Elon Musk said he was overcome with emotion Two veteran NASA astronauts headed for the International Space Station (ISS) yesterday after Elon Musk’s SpaceX on Saturday became the first commercial company to launch a rocket carrying humans into orbit, ushering in a new era in space travel. SpaceX’s two-stage Falcon 9 rocket with astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley aboard blasted off flawlessly in a cloud of bright orange flames and smoke from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, for a 19-hour voyage to the space station. “Let’s light this candle,” Hurley, the mission commander, told SpaceX mission control in Hawthorne, California, before liftoff at 3:22pm from NASA’s
INDIA Pride to be preserved The nation would not let its “pride be hurt” in its latest border flare-ups with China, but is determined to settle the dispute through talks, Minister of Defense Rajnath Singh said in a television interview late on Saturday. “Situations arise with China. It has happened before,” Singh said, adding that the government was striving to make sure “tension does not escalate.” The government has turned down US President Donald Trump’s offer to mediate, he said. IRAN Speaker says talks futile Newly elected Parliament Speaker Mohammad-Bagher Ghalibaf yesterday said that any negotiations with the US would be “futile.” The nation’s