Lord Levy: how I survived
LORD LEVY, the man at the heart of the cash-for-peerages investigation, and who is said to have saved Tony Blair from being in hock to the trades union movement, finally told his story this week, after nearly two years of silence.
In A Question of Honour: Inside New Labour and the True Story of the Cash for Peerages Scandal, Lord Levy revealed his hurt and pain at being “left to hang out to dry” by the Downing Street establishment when the Metropolitan Police investigation began in 2006. But he also told the JC this week of his “sadness” at the way some members of the Anglo-Jewish community “could not contain their envy and glee” during his ordeal, in which he was arrested three times before the police decided he had no case to answer.
In a wide-ranging interview, Lord Levy, formerly the Labour Party’s chief fundraiser and then for eight years Prime Minister Tony Blair’s personal envoy to the Middle East, spoke with emotion about those who supported him and his family during the police inquiry, in which it was claimed — wrongly — that the peer had offered honours to people whom he approached for funds for the Labour Party.
“My friends,” he said, “behaved in the most fantastic way. No one could ask for more.” But underlining the hard truth behind last week’s JC column by Geoffrey Alderman, in which he describes “some Jews of my acquaintance visibly gloating” after the peer’s first arrest, Lord Levy acknowledged that “I suppose I was not shocked — but this did not dilute the hurt.”
Nevertheless, Lord Levy was insistent that antisemitism did not play a part in the decision to arrest him, and described in his book, written with the help of former JC editor Ned Temko, how he had remonstrated with Mill Hill rabbi Yitzchak Schochet for suggesting it. He also disclosed some of the background to his years as Tony Blair’s Middle East envoy and declared that far from it being a disadvantage to be a Jew in the Arab world, it was often a positive bonus.