The Guardian 14 February, 2007

"Cash-for-peerages" — first arrest

Ruther Turner, the head of Government Relations at Number Ten Downing Street, was arrested last week following a police raid on her home at 6am in connection with the cash-for-peerages scandal.

She is the first person to be questioned on suspicion of perverting the course of justice — prompting speculation that the police suspect a desperate cover-up going on inside Number Ten.

The surprise arrest provoked cries of outrage from Tony Blair, who issued an immediate statement in support of Turner and "refuted absolutely" any wrong doing.

In particular Blair criticised the way in which the arrest was conducted. Police responded saying that dawn raids were normal practice to be sure of finding the suspect in and that warning people of arrest in advance could lead to the destruction of important papers.

Police have collected hundreds of documents and emails from Downing Street. On the same day the Attorney General Lord Goldsmith — a friend of Tony Blair and a man who has made big donations to "New Labour" — released in the Commons a letter explaining why he will not stand aside from advising the Crown Prosecution Service on whether to prosecute in this case — and why the Lord Chancellor, Lord Falconer, was wrong to suggest that he would.

Turner was released later the same day on police bail. So far police have interviewed around 90 people in different parties over the allegations that these parties solicited donations or loans in return for nominations to the peerage.

Scots National MP Angus Neil said: "Water is now lapping around Blair’s neck. This investigation is now right inside the door of Number Ten."

One senior Labour Minister has said that Blair would probably stand down early if charges in connection with this scandal are brought against any of his senior aides. The Minister said: "He knows he would need to do the right thing for the party."

New Worker

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