Police drop Prescott probe
John Prescott’s stay at the ranch of the Texan billionaire bidding to open a super-casino at the Millennium Dome will not be investigated by police, Scotland Yard said today.
A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police confirmed they had received complaints that the deputy prime minister had breached the 1906 and 1916 Prevention of Corruption Acts by accepting hospitality from Philip Anschutz.
“After scoping these allegations and taking advice from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), there is not sufficient basis for a criminal investigation,” the spokesman said.
The scandal was sparked by complaints made to Scotland Yard by the businessman George Bathurst and the Liberal Democrat MP for Lewes, Norman Baker.
Mr Baker told politics.co.uk: “I’ve got confidence in the police and I’m sure they investigated it properly. The CPS makes judgements on whether it is in the public interest to proceed [with a case], and whether they are likely to succeed if they do so.”
He added: “One of the problems [with the Prescott case] may be that the burden of proof is higher for alleged corruption that may have taken place abroad.”
Mr Prescott came under fire when he failed to record his stay at Mr Anschutz’s Colorado ranch on the MPs’ register of interests.
The deputy prime minister said at the time he was not involved in decisions about the location of the first ever super-casino, which was allowed under last year’s Gambling Act. And dismissing the allegations as “wild charges”, Mr Prescott insisted there was no conflict of interest.
“Let us be clear,” he told the Commons, “that I was not associated in any way with the planning of the Dome or the sale of the Dome and the decisions were taken in the department by other ministers which I informed this House about.”