Thursday, February 1, 2007

U.K.'s Lord Levy Charged With Perversion of Justice

In U.S. history, occasional Justices may have been perverted, but in the U.K., there is a serious crime of "perverting justice."  An interesting explanation, with historical anecdotes, here in The Times on-line, on the meaning of "perverting the course of justice" and its relationship to Alice Through The Looking Glass.  It is an article by Gary Slapper, right, a law professor at the Open027427700_1 University

Its occasion is the recent re-arrest of Lord Levy on charges related to a "cash-for-honours" scandal involving Levy, a good friend and fundraising supporter of PM Tony Blair.  The new charge is "suspicion of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice."  As The Times reports in a related story, Tuesday saw "the arrest of the Prime Minister’s personal friend and fundraiser in Central London. He became the second person close to Tony Blair to be held under suspicion of perverting the course of justice."  Documents went missing, it is said, and emails were deleted.  A member of the opposing party focuses on the perverting-justice aspect of the scandal in saying, “Increasingly this sorry affair has the whiff of Watergate about it. For Nixon the crime was the cover-up, but we must await the result of the police investigation to see whether something similar is now happening in Downing Street."  [Original story of the re-arrest here, and background on Lord Michael Levy here.]

The Levy travails ought to be a huge story in the U.S., but I have not seen much play of it. The analogy to U.S. political ethics scandals is obvious, but its long-term impact--beyond analogy--may be bigger and more directly affecting U.S. interests and the Bush Administration's friendly voice in the U.K. on Iraq and other important points of interest (and perhaps points of departure if any of this hastens Blair's leaving office or dogs his legacy in retirement).  Imagine the further erosion of support and public perception, here and in the world, if there's no one to say Yo Blair to anymore.  And even in the short run, keep in mind that Levy himself is Blair's envoy to the Middle East.

[Alan Childress]

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