Lord Sainsbury quizzed in police probe (14/7/2006)

Lord Sainsbury has been questionned by the police about the current loans for peerages scandal, but the authorities really ought to be looking into a potantially far greater outrage - cash not just for peerages but for ministerial positions and government support for vested interests.

As we have noted before, of the top 3 personal donors to Blair's Party, 2 - Paul Drayson and David Sainsbury - are biotech entrepreneurs.

Both have been made peers by Blair in controversial circumstances and both have been given jobs in government.

Lord Sainsbury gave Labour its biggest ever single donation in September 1997. On October 3 1997 he was made a life peer by Blair and a year later Minister for Science, despite his being a well-known biotech entrepreneur. http://www.lobbywatch.org/profile1.asp?PrId=116

The complainst about conflicts of interest have rumbled on ever since. Only two months ago The Sunday Times reported:

"LORD SAINSBURY, the billionaire science minister, is embroiled in a fresh controversy after it emerged that projects he set up to promote genetically modified (GM) foods have been awarded more than GBP12m by his department.

The Sainsbury Laboratory, which researches GM crops, has received a 400% increase in government funding since Labour came to power in 1997, with grants of GBP8.7m.

A further GBP4.2m has been given to Plant Bioscience in the past five years, a company set up by Sainsbury's charitable foundation, which markets spin-offs from the laboratory.

The disclosure of the large increases in funding has led to claims by Sainsbury's critics that the minister faces an 'untenable conflict of interest'."

When Labour Party donor Paul Drayson was made a peer, a Guardian editorial commented, "It may be unkind to Lord Drayson to suggest that he effectively purchased a seat in parliament, but if the same thing happened in an African kleptocracy we might find it altogether less amusing."

Lord Sainbury, as The Sunday Times has commented, has been "a never-to-be-reshuffled minister" - in the same post as Science Minister since 1998. Not that he's purchased a job for life, you understand. Drayson - aka "Lord Smallpox" (because of the extraordinarily lucrative deal the Government put the way of his biotech firm) - is widely tipped as Lord Sainsbury's successor.

Sainsbury quizzed in donor probe
BBC News Friday, 14 July 2006

Science Minister Lord Sainsbury has been questioned by police as part of the "loans for peerages" inquiry.

A spokesman for Lord Sainsbury said he had not been cautioned before the questioning; the spokesman refused to give any more details.

The supermarket millionaire is one of Labour's biggest donors and loaned the party GBP2m before the last election.

He is the first government minister known to have been questioned by police during the investigation.

In April he was cleared of breaching the ministerial code after failing to disclose a GBP2 million loan to the Labour party. He apologised and said he had confused the loan with a GBP2m declared donation he had made.

Secret loans

Meanwhile, Labour fundraiser Lord Levy has called his own arrest unnecessary and "entirely theatrical".

Lord Levy, was questioned on Wednesday and Thursday. He denies any wrongdoing.

Police are investigating all the main parties to see whether people have been given honours in return for making financial donations.

The investigation was launched after it emerged that some people nominated for peerages by Prime Minister Tony Blair had given large secret loans to Labour last year.

All concerned deny any wrongdoing. The rules on political funding meant that loans on commercial terms did not need to be disclosed publicly.

On Thursday, Met Police deputy assistant commissioner John Yates told the Commons public administration committee that police had so far questioned 35 people without cautioning them and 13 under caution as part of the investigation.

BBC correspondent Sean Curran said speculation about whether Mr Blair would be questioned had increased on Thursday when committee chairman Tony Wright told journalists he thought Mr Yates "would not baulk at interviewing anyone else".


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