Blair Urged to Probe Prescotts Casino Discussions

Prime Minister Tony Blair was sent a direct request from Liberal Democrat culture spokesman Don Foster asking that a full probe be initiated into his second in command, Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott.

Prescott has recently been under heavy criticism and the request was to investigate claims that Prescott's meetings with American billionaire and casino tycoon Philip Anschutz were in breach of the ministerial code.

Anschutz company is bidding to host Britain's first ever super casino. It has been said that Prescott's personal involvement with Anschutz such as staying at his Colorado ranch estate in the US in summer of 2005 entails a conflict of interest.

Foster criticized the Conservatives for relegating the task to cabinet secretary Gos O'Donnel, when only the prime minister could make such a decision.

"The Tories have made a total mess of holding the government to account over this affair," said Foster.

"There are still clearly unanswered questions relating to John Prescott's dealings with Mr Anschutz. The prime minister must agree to undertake a full investigation of whether Mr Prescott broke the ministerial code, or suspicions of wrongdoing will linger," he said.

"They have twice written letters to the wrong individual demanding an investigation, and even requested the wrong issues to be investigated. Yet again only the Liberal Democrats are proving to be an effective opposition."

"Since the donation made to a charity to cover the accommodation costs was paid from public funds there is clearly a public interest issue involved. I will be grateful, therefore, if you will investigate this matter to ensure that there was no breach of the ministerial code," he added.