e entretanto na terra de Sua Majestade...

Detectives in the cash-for-honours inquiry were forced to "hack" into Downing Street computers in the search for evidence, The Sunday Telegraph has discovered.

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. Concerns grew among officers that there had been a cover-up.

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 have revealed.

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 have revealed.

It is understood that John Yates, the Metropolitan Police assistant commissioner leading the investigation, authorised officers to use all lawful and legitimate means to discover whether information was being withheld.

The revelation will intensify the deep divisions between Scotland Yard and Downing Street over the investigation. Detectives are angry at what they perceive as attempts to block the inquiry. Labour officials have accused officers of being "theatrical" over the dawn arrest on Friday of a senior government aide by four officers at her home.

The computer "hacking" at No 10 came before Ruth Turner, one of Tony Blair's closest advisers, was arrested and questioned for several hours in relation to the alleged abuse of the honours system.

Miss Turner, 36, who denies acting illegally, is the fourth person to be arrested during the 10-month investigation — but the first to be held for allegedly perverting the course of justice, which carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

Legal experts say that high-level authorisation — similar to the granting of a search warrant — is needed for remote accessing of computers. Neither Scotland Yard nor the Home Office would confirm that such permission had been given in the cash-for-honours case, but there is no suggestion that any officer acted illegally or improperly.

The investigators did not have to notify No 10 if they were "hacking" into its system. One legal expert said: "In some cases, a senior officer can give permission. In other cases, you might need the authorisation of an independent commissioner, who is usually a retired judge appointed by the Home Office."

Computers belonging to senior Labour officials and aides have also been seized during the inquiry. The police have used electronic experts to obtain material from the files of two of the other people arrested, Lord Levy, Labour's senior fund-raiser, and Sir Chistopher Evans, the wealthy Labour donor. There is no suggestion that either man withheld information.

More than 90 people have been questioned by Scotland Yard, including at least 14 under caution, as part of the investigation. No charges have been brought.

Senior officers are expected to meet officials from the Crown Prosecution Service early this week to discuss the interview with Miss Turner and to decide on the next stage of the inquiry.

More senior officials and aides are likely to be questioned over allegations of a cover-up. If significant new evidence emerges, officers will want to speak again with Mr Blair, who was first interviewed last month. But any decision to question him further would not be taken lightly. Jonathan Powell, his chief of staff, may also be re-interviewed.

News of inquiries into an alleged Downing Street cover-up has drawn comparisons with the Watergate scandal, which led to President Richard Nixon’s 1974 resignation.

One Westminster source said police inquiries seemed to have made a recent breakthrough. "Quite clearly, in the past few days, the police have found something quite significant, possibly a file dump of some kind," said the source.

"They have been using specific software of the type they use in complex fraud cases." Relations between Scotland Yard and Downing Street are an all-time low. Serving and former officers responded to criticisms of the police made on Friday by David Blunkett, the former home secretary, and Lord Puttnam, who has worked with Miss Turner.

Roy Ramm, a retired Met commander, said: "No one is above the law. To arrest Ruth Turner at Downing Street in the glare of the press would have been theatrical and questionable. Her discreet arrest at home was, by contrast, professional and routine."

Sir Chris Fox, the former president of the Association of Chief Police Officers, said: "Hearing David Blunkett talk about this being theatrical is nonsense and worrying. It seems that some Labour politicians are trying to coerce a police inquiry."

Lord Thomas of Gresford, the Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman, said: "Once the police had formed a reasonable suspicion of [Miss Turner] perverting the course of justice, as they must have, it was their duty to act swiftly and professionally to preserve any evidence."

Daily Telegraph

Descubra as diferenças.

Publicado por Manuel 16:50:00  


  1. josé said...
    Impressionante. Isto é que devia aparecer na primeira página do Público, amanhã e com um pedido de comentário a José Sócrates e a Alberto Costa:

    "Senhor ministro! Que acha de dar poderes à PJ para lhe poderem vasculhar o computador e o seu gabinete?!"

    O ministro diria: "O 25 de Abril fez-se para que isso nunca seja permitido."

    JPRibeiro said...
    Descubra as diferenças!?

    Descubra mas é as semelhanças, se achar alguma...

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