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UK police arrest chief fundraiser for PM Blair

[JURIST] Lord Michael Levy [BBC profile; Wikipedia profile], chief fundraiser for British Prime Minister Tony Blair [official website], returned to a police station for questioning Thursday after he was arrested by Scotland Yard [Times report] Wednesday in connection with a growing "cash for honors" scandal [BBC Q&A]. The police official leading the investigation, Deputy Assistant Commissioner John Yates, described Levy's arrest as "integral" to the probe rather than "symbolic," although he said Levy would not necessarily be charged. Levy, who was released on bail, denied wrongdoing. Asked to comment on Levy's arrest, Blair's official spokesman said it was a matter for the Labour Party [press briefing summary].

The investigation began after revelations that some people recommended for peerages had made secret loans to Blair's Labour Party [party website] and other major political parties [JURIST report]. Trading cash for honors may violate the 1925 Honours (Prevention of Abuses) Act [BBC backgrounder]. UK Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs Lord Falconer has suggested [JURIST report] that new laws should be enacted requiring loans to political parties to be publicly disclosed. Commissioner Yates told Parliament's Public Administration Select Committee (PASC) in a closed-door briefing Thursday that 48 people had been questioned in the political corruption investigation - Britain's largest in 70 years. Also on Thursday, the PASC released a report [press notice] calling for further steps to ensure the propriety of peerages and honours. Read the full text [PDF] of the report, Propriety and Honours: Interim Findings. The London Times has more. BBC News has additional coverage.

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