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Blair caught up in political corruption inves -

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TONY EASTLEY: Across the Atlantic where Margaret Thatcher broke the gender mould decades ago,
Britain's Prime Minister, Tony Blair, has been caught up in a political corruption investigation,
after it appears that police hacked into Number 10's computer system after becoming suspicious that
vital information was being withheld.

Last week one of Mr Blair's closest aides was arrested and questioned about perverting the course
of justice.

From London, Europe Correspondent, Rafael Epstein.

RAFAEL EPSTEIN: Late last year Tony Blair achieved the dubious distinction of being the first Prime
Minister to help police with their inquiries. It was supposed to be the high water mark of the
political damage from this police corruption inquiry.

But now it appears Downing Street has been so unwilling to cooperate that police have been forced
to hack into the computers at the Prime Minister's office, and even ask their internet service
provider to hand over records of any emails that may have been deleted.

Why take such steps? Because, one newspaper says, someone on the inside at Number 10 is telling
police where to look.

No one will confirm these reports and few are willing to speak about them, but former Tory
heavyweight, Michael Portillo, is happy to gorge himself on Labour's pain.

MICHAEL PORTILLO: What's being said here is that there's a mole in Number 10 and that they've, the
police have hacked into the computers. Now of course, these two things could be true, but they
could just be a way of destabilising 10 Downing Street.

I mean what makes people really worried is if they believe that someone on the payroll is a double
agent, and if they believe that their email's being read by the Metropolitan Police, that makes
people really go into panic.

RAFAEL EPSTEIN: Most other Tories can't make political capital out of this because they're accused
of the same fundraising crime. That is, accepting multi-million pound loans that did not have to be
publicly declared, and then very soon after, lining the donors up for peerages, a seat in the House
of Lords.

What's incensed the Labour Party is that at dawn last Friday, Mr Blair's Deputy Chief of Staff,
Ruth Turner, was arrested and questioned about perverting the course of justice.

Others had been arrested and questioned, but none about obstructing the investigation, and no one
from inside the Prime Minister's office.

Several Labour ministers have weighed into some of the nation's top cops. Why the dawn arrest, they
ask, when the Prime Minister and his staff insist they've been cooperating?

The police union responded with shrill concerns about political intimidation.

For Michael Portillo, two of the nation's most powerful institutions are being dragged through the
mud, and the Prime Minister is to blame.

MICHAEL PORTILLO: I think he's up to his neck in it, but I do agree with you that you can't believe
anything you read here. I mean, you've got Number 10 and the Metropolitan Police here. So you've
got the behemoth of spin and leak against the leviathan of leak and spin. You know, these two
organisations, you can't believe a word they say.

RAFAEL EPSTEIN: Even if the Metropolitan Police eventually recommend no charges be laid, Tony Blair
will find it hard to live down his derisive description of John Major as a man knee-deep in
dishonour.

If charges are laid, it could accelerate the departure of the Labour leader who declared his
government would be purer than pure.

In London, this is Rafael Epstein for AM.