Levy: Donations will get you a peerage

Making substantial donations to a political party will help people obtain a peerage, Lord Levy has confirmed.

The former Labour fundraiser, who was arrested and questioned by police twice during the ‘cash-for-honours’ affair in 2006 and 2007, made the comments during an impeccably honest question-and-answers session at the Hay literary festival.

When asked by a member of the audience whether the rich could improve their chances of getting a peerage by donating to political parties, Lord Levy said: “Do I think it’s true? Look at the facts. They will tell you what’s going on. Of course it’s true. That’s self-evident.”

But insisted he had never acted improperly.

“I have never offered anything to anybody,” he said.

“This sort of thing was going on long before I was born. I did not create any system.

Lord Levy also reiterated his calls for state funding of political parties.

In an interesting passage, he also told the audience he and Tony Blair – once famed for their weekend tennis sessions – were no longer as close as they were.

“Do I count him on the hand of the few friends that I believe are real friends in my life? No,” he said.

He said he was hurt by the lack of contact between him and the prime minister while they were both under scrutiny for the donations.

“I found it very strange,” he said.

“But then we know he was questioned several times himself. I suppose he was going through very difficult times himself.”

Lord Levy described Mr Blair’s new role as Middle East peace envoy as “a very, very marginal role” in the peace process.

“All the real power comes from the White House” he continued.

It has been a year since the crown prosecution service confirmed Lord Levy would not face charges over the ‘cash-for-honours’ affair. He was at the Hay festival to publicise his autobiography, released in April.