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Blair aide held in honors case

January 20, 2007|From the Associated Press

LONDON — An aide to Prime Minister Tony Blair was arrested Friday in an investigation into whether political honors, such as seats in the House of Lords and knighthoods, were traded for cash.

Ruth Turner, Blair's director of government relations, was questioned on suspicion of being involved in the illegal sale of honors and perverting the course of justice, police said.

Turner, 36, is the first member of Blair's Downing Street staff to be arrested and the fourth person to be detained by police in their investigation. All four are free on bail.

"I absolutely refute any allegations of wrongdoing of any nature whatsoever," Turner said in a statement released by Blair's office.

Blair was interviewed by detectives last month, becoming the first serving prime minister interviewed in a criminal inquiry. However, he was not interviewed "under caution," meaning it is unlikely that he is a suspect.

Blair expressed confidence in the aide, who has not been charged.

Police are investigating allegations that honors were given to people who lent money to Blair's Labor Party.

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