Police ask Thatcher for Details of Meetings With DeLay

House Majority Leader Tom DeLay

10-4-05 - Prosecutors investigating Rep. Tom DeLay have asked former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher for details of a meeting between the two politicians, her spokesman confirmed Tuesday.

Lord Bell said police contacted Thatcher's office to clarify details of a meeting with the Texas Republican in May 2000. He said DeLay had paid Thatcher a courtesy call while he was on a visit to Britain and that she was not involved in wrongdoing.

"Lady Thatcher is visited by many politicians and political figures from around the world," Bell said. "It was not a business meeting."

The Daily Mirror newspaper, citing a leaked British government document, reported Monday that the request was part of an inquiry by the Justice Department into allegations that congressmen received free foreign holidays in return for efforts to influence legislation.

The newspaper quoted the Home Office document as saying the investigation centered on the activities of Jack Abramoff, a lobbyist with close ties to DeLay.

"U.S. officials are investigating whether Abramoff was involved in obtaining legislative assistance from public officials in exchange for arranging and underwriting trips to the U.K.," the document said.

"It is alleged that Abramoff arranged for his clients to pay for the trips to the U.K. on the basis that Congressman DeLay would support favorable legislation if they paid for the trip," it added, according to the Mirror.

The document reportedly noted that there would be "considerable interest in this case if it were to become public knowledge" and said police had been asked to keep the request for information about Thatcher's meeting confidential.

The Home Office said it could neither confirm nor deny the authenticity of the document.

DeLay, 58, stepped down as House Republican leader after being charged with conspiracy to violate campaign finance laws. On Monday, a Texas grand jury indicted the Sugar Land Republican on money-laundering charges.