Downing St deny blocking Tory peerage for Dannatt

DOWNING Street yesterday denied that Prime Minister Gordon Brown had intervened to block a Conservative peerage for former Army chief General Sir Richard Dannatt.

David Cameron announced last year that Gen Dannatt – an outspoken critic of Government defence policy while still a serving soldier – was advising his party and would be nominated to the House of Lords so he could serve in a future Conservative administration.

But over the weekend it was claimed that conversations between Downing Street and Mr Cameron's office had made it clear that the nomination must be deferred.

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The dissolution honours list is set to be announced in the next few days and is expected to include peerages for retired senior Labour ministers including former Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott and former Defence Secretary John Reid.

A Downing Street spokesman yesterday said Mr Brown had "no role" in the process of vetting nominations for political peerages and had not intervened in the Dannatt case.

The spokesman said: "It is categorically not the case that the Prime Minister has blocked General Dannatt's proposed peerage.

"Advice on applications for political peerages submitted by the political parties comes from the independent House of Lords Appointments Commission who are responsible for vetting nominations. The PM has no role in the process.

"Any suggestion that the Prime Minister has intervened in the process in this case is simply wrong."

The decision by the former general to support the Conservatives so soon after stepping down has in the past made him the subject of Labour attacks.

Questions about his expenses were put down by Lord George Foulkes, a Labour peer and outspoken MSP, in an effort to discredit him.