Essentially, on Howard's watch, two Liverpool gang bosses were released after ten months in jail on the grounds that they had informed and made themselves useful. In fact, they had done little more than arrange for drugs and guns to be planted on rivals, and tell the police where to look. They returned to Liverpool and their careers with the reputation of invulnerability.
Liverpool's police force is not known for incorruptibility.
One of the main minions of the more powerful of the two gangsters is a cousin of Michael Howard, and maintains some family connection.
Howard was the Tory Home Secretary who set the fashion of illiberalism which New Labour have imitated. The child of refugees from Nazi Germany, he was one of the chief instigators of the whole anti-'asylum-seeker' thing.
He is also famous for saying, on every oppurtunity, 'Prison works.'
Which is interesting in the circumstances.
His former Prisons Minister Anne Widdecombe damaged Howard by a speech in which she talked - this was after the whole mess about the resignation of the head of the prison service and the occasion on which Howard avoided answering a television interviewer's question fifteen times - of Howard's having 'something of the night' about him.
Since he became leader, she refuses to discuss what she said at all, not disavowing it, but simply stonewalling.
As Prisons Minister, she will have known about the gangsters' release.
I think Anne Widdecombe perhaps knows a deal more than that, and is stonewalling to protect her party from scandal about a man she suggested strongly should never be its leader. She really needs to spill.
Someone up there clearly likes Tony Blair more than the rest of us.