London: Lawyers for British Prime Minister Tony Blair's government failed to stop the publication yesterday of a newspaper story about a possible cover-up in an investigation into political party funding.

In a further embarrassment to Blair, who has struggled to dispel the scent of a funding scandal in his final months in office, a High Court judge refused to grant an injunction to Attorney General Lord Peter Goldsmith, who had applied for a gag on The Guardian newspaper at the request of the police.

The Guardian then ran a front page story suggesting some of Blair's closest aides may have attempted to influence evidence given to police leading an investigation into party political funding.

Detectives have been investigating for the past year whether political parties nominated people for state honours in return for loans but are now also probing whether any Blair official sought to conceal evidence from police.

The investigation has cast a dark shadow over Blair's final months in office. He is expected to go in or by July this year. Blair has been questioned twice as a witness by police.

Two Blair aides were recently arrested on suspicion of perverting the course of justice or conspiring to do so. Goldsmith successfully secured an injunction last Friday to block the BBC from running a story about a message sent between two of Blair's aides.

The terms of that injunction were relaxed on Monday, allowing the BBC to report the document in question was written by Ruth Turner, director of government relations in Blair's office, and that it concerned Lord Levy, his top fundraiser and Middle East envoy.