updated 7/20/2007 10:04:21 AM ET 2007-07-20T14:04:21

No charges will be filed against associates of former Prime Minister Tony Blair who were arrested during a lengthy police investigation of political funding, the Crown Prosecution Service said Friday.

Drawing an end to the probe that clouded Blair’s last year in office, senior prosecutor Carmen Dowd said there was insufficient evidence to support the prosecution of anyone in the case.

Dowd, who heads the agency’s Special Crime Division, said she had considered charges under 1925 legislation banning the sale of honors such as knighthoods and seats in the House of Lords, offenses of perverting the course of justice, and under the Political Parties and Referendums Act.

'Insufficient evidence'
“Having considered all of the evidence in this case I have decided that there is insufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction against any individual for any offense in relation to this matter,” she said, reading a statement. She took no questions.

The investigation begun in March 2006 initially focused on allegations that political parties traded financial support for honors, such as knighthoods and seats in the House of Lords, but later broadened into the possibility of a cover-up.

News of the prosecutors’ decision leaked out Thursday night, to the relief of Blair’s associates.

“I think my face tells how I feel,” a beaming Lord Levy, Blair’s former fundraiser who was arrested twice during the police investigation, told reporters Friday.

Blair himself became the first serving prime minister to be interviewed by police in a criminal investigation, though he was questioned as a witness not a suspect.

'It is all over'
“We always maintained privately that it would come to this point because we had never done anything wrong,” said former Blair aide John McTernan, who had also been arrested.

“I think it is all over and the police in my experience were scrupulously fair in the way they treated me. I believe they did the same with my colleagues,” McTernan said.

Also arrested during the investigation were Blair aide Ruth Turner and biotech tycoon Sir Christopher Evans, who loaned $2 million to Blair’s Labour Party.

The probe was led by Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner John Yates, whose team interviewed more than 130 people and gathered more than 6,000 documents before submitting a file to prosecutors in April.

“I think everybody in politics wishes it had been done faster because ultimately for the public it just looks mucky and murky and I don’t think anybody who is involved in politics actually genuinely believes anybody at a senior level in any of the major parties is involved in anything dodgy in relation to this,” McTernan said.

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