Saturday, February 03, 2007

The UK's Kenneth Starr - John Yates of the Yard

UK Prime Minister Tony Blair in Davos, Switzerland on Sunday Jan 28, 2007
In 1994 in the US, a member of the Republican Party Kenneth Starr was appointed special prosecutor to investigate Bill Clinton's role in a failed property investment in Arkansas, that was known as Whitewater.

The zealous prosecutor could find no incriminating evidence against Clinton during his four-year multi-million dollar trawl, but he thought that he had finished off his big fish quarry by stumbling on the Lewinsky affair.

In the UK, John Yates, the Metropolitan Police assistant commissioner has been leading an investigation to determine if a 1925 law was broken by members of the governing Labour Party by offering the prospect of honours such as knighthoods or membership of the House of Lords to donors of significant sums to the Party.

Al the main parties at Westminster, appoint business donors to the Lords.

What is intriguing is that the inquiry headed by Yates, with a troupe of investigators, will mark its first anniversary in March.

It does not seem that the length of an inquiry that involves a small number of people, results from police incompetence but Yates' apparent determination to show some element of success, has prompted him to focus on whether some e-mail transcripts were not provided to his team.

Two weeks ago, one of Prime Minister Tony Blair's aides Ruth Turner, was arrested for questioning by four police officers at her flat at 6:30 am in the morning.

This act is part of a parallel media game because Yates hardly expected that Turner would not turn up for a requested appointment at a police station.

Last November, a BBC news editor, had offered a cash bonus to journalists who would provide scoops on the ongoing investigation and the police are suspected to regularly leak information to the media.

Last month, The Sunday Telegraph reported that police used computer experts to obtain confidential material, and are also believed to have approached Number 10's internet suppliers to gain access to government email records.

Scotland Yard became suspicious that potentially vital information was being withheld after it twice asked Downing Street for all emails, letters and other material relating to the system of awarding peerages.

The newspaper reported that they were deeply frustrated by the "very slim" file of documents that was handed over — and decided to obtain further evidence by their own devices, senior sources close to the inquiry revealed - i.e the police.

Labour Party MPs are reported to believe that John Yates, should put up or shut up rather than head into a second year in pursuit of a smoking gun and maybe what he might hope for, a well deserved promotion some day.