July 20th, 2007 08:06 EST
Cash for honours: Statement from Assistant Commissioner John Yates.
"The Metropolitan Police began this investigation on 21 March 2006. It followed the receipt of allegations that honours were being sought or offered for gain in contravention of the Honours (Prevention of Abuses) Act 1925 and also potential breaches of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000.
"The allegations were cross party and came from several members of the public including the MP, Angus MacNeil.
"There was also a detailed newspaper report, in the form of an undercover operation by The Sunday Times newspaper in connection with the funding of school academies and various comments from others who had suggested publicly in early March 2006 that the Labour Party had deliberately concealed a number of loans made to it at the time of the 2005 General Election.
"With any investigation you go where the evidence takes you and during the course of the investigation it became necessary to consider whether there had been a conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.
"This investigation would have been concluded much earlier if this latter aspect had not arisen."I was clearly aware that the investigation into these matters would have serious consequences. The decision to investigate was not one that was entered into lightly."The police role in these matters is to gather the evidence, analyse it and present a case to the CPS in order to prove or disprove the allegations.
"It is a search for the truth. "It is for the CPS and those that advise them to decide on the weight, admissibility and probative value of the evidence gathered and to make the decision as to whether there is a case to answer or whether it is in the public interest to proceed to court.
"Accountability for operational decision-making in this case has rested and remains with me. However, from the beginning, the investigative team and I have liaised closely with the Crown Prosecution Service, Queen's Counsel and the Electoral Commission, seeking their advice and views throughout "There can be little doubt that it has been challenging case. The proportionality and necessity of any action were matters uppermost in my mind throughout. Some have been surprised about the intensity and length of the police investigation and I recognise that this has not been a comfortable time for many of those who came under the investigative spotlight.
"However, with allegations such as these, which were of utmost seriousness, the investigation had to be thorough and meticulous in every respect.
"It was absolutely proper therefore that, when appropriate, police used the full range of powers at their disposal to gather the available evidence or potential evidence."Our job is to follow the evidence and obtain the best possible evidence. Some aspects of criminal enquiries can be undertaken on a voluntary basis but not all.
"On occasions, this will take us the police into areas where they may rather not be but where we have to go in the interests of preserving potential evidence and, of course, thoroughness.
"The CPS has now announced its decision not to charge anyone in connection with this matters under investigation. That decision rests solely with them. I do however welcome their comments confirming the diligence, professionalism and thoroughness of the enquiry. You will also have noted their comments about the complexities of the matter under investigation.
"Lastly, the Metropolitan Police Authority has a clear remit to ask me to account for both the cost and the outcome of what has been a high profile and resource intensive investigation. "In due course I will be providing them with a report on these matters and about any other issues they consider relevant."
Commissioner Sir Ian Blair said:
"From the start of the investigation I made public that I would not be involved in operational decisions as I felt this would be inappropriate given the regular meetings I have with cabinet members and the former Prime Minister on official business. The Director of Public Prosecution Ken MacDonald and the new Attorney General Baroness Scotland also took similar decisions.
"However I have been kept informed of the investigation's progress and have always been satisfied by the leadership and conduct of the investigation. The inquiry has been a meticulous and proportionate response to the serious allegations that were made and due process has now been completed with today's CPS announcement.
"Assistant Commissioner John Yates and every member of his team have carried out this complex and sensitive investigation with the utmost professionalism."They all continue to have my full support and confidence."