British police question Blair fro 2nd time in cash-for-honors probe

Police questioned Prime Minister Tony Blair for a second time over allegations that political honors were traded for cash, the British leader's official spokesman said Thursday.

Blair was interviewed last Friday as a witness and not under caution, meaning it was unlikely police suspected Blair of any criminal offense, Blair's office said. Police requested the details be kept secret until Thursday, the spokesman said without explaining why.

"No doubt the police have their reasons," said the spokesman, who speaks only on condition of anonymity. "This was kept extremely tight."

Police are investigating allegations that honors, including seats in the House of Lords and knighthoods, were given to individuals who loaned money to Blair's Labour Party or the main opposition Conservatives.

Blair was not accompanied by a lawyer during the latest interview, but a notetaker was present, the spokesman said. He said he could not confirm whether Blair was questioned by a uniformed police officer or by Deputy Assistant Commissioner John Yates, who is leading the investigation for London's Metropolitan Police.

Blair was first interviewed by police for 90 minutes interview Dec. 14. It is extremely rare for a serving prime minister to be quizzed by police and it will be seen as a further dent to his diminished reputation.

During his weekly House of Commons question period on Wednesday, Blair refused to answer questions about a police investigation into the issue in which the prime minister has been questioned and four people including a key envoy and a salaried Blair aide have been arrested.

Blair told Parliament that lawmakers should realize "for perfectly obvious reasons, that there is nothing I can say on this subject." The prime minister has said he will not comment while the police probe is continuing, reports AP.

Blair has acknowledged some supporters who offered loans were later nominated for honors, but has insisted that he did nothing wrong. Those candidates had been legitimate selections, allowed under rules to reward supporters for their service to a political party rather than the general public, Blair's spokesman said.

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