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Friday, January 8, 1999 Published at 13:54 GMT

UK Politics

Dan Blair to the rescue

New Labour's a life-saver

Prime Minister Tony Blair dashed to the rescue of a Danish tourist found drowning a mile off the Seychelles during his holiday.

The swimmer was picked up by Mr Blair's dinghy, after the prime minister and his bodyguard saw the unnamed man being swept out to sea.

Skipper Gerard Mussard tells of the prime minister's adventures
But the swimmer may not realise how lucky he was. The man, who has not been named, was only rescued by the prime minister after Mr Blair discovered his mobile phone would not work from the beach.

Mr Blair and his bodyguard took to the waves hoping to get a better signal.

[ image: Mandelson, one man's loss is another man's gain]
Mandelson, one man's loss is another man's gain
It is believed Mr Blair was using the satellite phone to put the final touches to the mini re-shuffle forced on the government by the double resignations in December of former Trade Secretary Peter Mandelson and former Paymaster General Geoffrey Robinson.

So, unlikely as it may seem, the home loan row which cost Mr Blair his right-hand man in the Cabinet, Peter Mandelson, turned out to be a life-saver.

The holiday-maker was a mile offshore when he got into difficulties. But he did not need to be revived after being pulled on to Mr Blair's dinghy and did not require hospital treatment.

The skipper of the dinghy Gerard Mussard described Mr Blair's adventures saying: "We were in the dingy and just out of the blue we saw a guy waving and Mr Blair said to Bill, [the prime minister's bodyguard] 'Let's see what's happening with that guy' and he said he needed help."

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's World at One programme ,Mr Mussard said the prime minister helped the man onboard with "no problem".

He added that because of the strong current, "if we didn't help, he would have been in trouble".

Mr Mussard said the tourist, thought to be a business man, had no idea that his life was saved by the head of the UK Government until he was safely back on dry land.

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