The Times: “No 10 investigated for perversion of justice”

The Times: “No 10 investigated for perversion of justice”

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    Could the honours probe blight Labour for months?

A report in the Times this morning might, if accurate, dash hopes at Number 10 and in the Labour party that the honours probe could be resolved “by January” – the timing predicted by Assistant Commander Yates in his letter to MPs last month.

In an apparent new turn the Times is reporting this morning that the Crown Prosecution Service has advised police to extend their inquiries into “suspected attempts to hamper the nine-month investigation.” This, according to the paper follows suggestions that not all the e-mails and documents have been handed over to the police and others have “disappeared”.

The report goes on: “…The possibility of charges on perverting the course of justice was discussed by CPS lawyers after meetings with police. Such charges can be brought if a person tries to interfere with an investigation that might bring criminal proceedings…According to the CPS, “it does not matter whether or not the act results in a perversion of the course of justice: the offence is committed when acts tending and intended to pervert a course of justice are done”.

Whether this information is being “made public” to put extra pressure on aides and officials we do not know but the worry for the Government must be that this could all take months to complete and might have an impact on the hand-over.

Meanwhile we should get a sense of the political damage this is all causing with possibly four national public opinion polls that are likely to be published this week. Generally pollsters like to avoid holiday periods and in recent years the December polls have been finalised and published before Christmas.

In the pipe-line are ICM for the Guardian, Communicate Research for the Independent, YouGov for the Daily Telegraph and the Ipsos-Mori political monitor that last month appeared in the Observer.

Hopefully the first of these, CR and ICM might appear in the next couple of days.

Mike Smithson

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