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EDITIONS
Sunday, 15 December, 2002, 06:41 GMT
Cherie remains focus of newspapers
The daily diet of stories about Cherie Blair and her dealings with the conman, Peter Foster, has, according to the Independent on Sunday, led to her husband backing a new anti-sleaze law.

Worried at the mistrust of politicians being made worse by the fortnight of intense scrutiny of his wife's affairs, the prime minister apparently wants MPs to be made subject to the same anti-corruption laws as other public officials.

The legislation is being drawn up by his Home Secretary, David Blunkett, and should be ready next year.

Under the changes, MPs would no longer be protected by the right of parliamentary privilege, which makes them immune from prosecution for corruption.

Husband Blair

One consequence of "Cheriegate", says the Sunday Telegraph, is that Mr Blair has promised to spend more time with his wife.

He apparently feels guilty about failing to do more to prevent her becoming entangled with Mr Foster.

The Sunday Express claims Mr Foster was ready to sell secrets of his dealings with Mrs Blair to the Israeli secret service, Mossad.

Intelligence sources have told the paper that Mossad was also interested in Mr Foster's girlfriend, Carole Caplin, because - as Mrs Blair's so-called life-style guru - she has close links to the family.

However, the Sunday Mirror says Mr Foster and Miss Caplin have decided to quit Britain for a new life in Australia.

MPs' expenses

The Mail on Sunday has been investigating MPs' claims for expenses.

It focuses on one Conservative, Michael Trend.

The paper says he has claimed nearly 20,000 a year in allowances intended to pay for London accommodation for MPs from far-flung constituencies.

But he regularly commutes the 25 miles from his home in his seat of Windsor.

Mr Trend apparently acknowledged to the Mail that he spent "most evenings" in Windsor.

But he insisted that he had done nothing wrong, since he did have a London address, although he refused to tell the paper where it was.

'Rail cuts'

Britain's beleaguered commuters will face a new blow in the New Year, according to the Observer.

It says that a cash crisis on the railways means there will be massive cuts in services and safety maintenance.

Senior rail executives have told the paper that they fear a fifth of services will be cut - that amounts to 3,500 trains a day.

On top of this, there will be job cuts in the industry and soaring ticket prices.

Harry's hair

The Sunday Times reports that police are investigating a plot to snatch hair from Prince Harry's head to obtain his DNA.

St James' Palace is said to have alerted police when the Prince of Wales' private secretary, Sir Michael Peat, received a letter detailing the plot.

The paper says Prince Harry's housemaster at Eton and his personal protection officers were also told.

The Mail on Sunday says an attractive girl was to be used in a 'honey trap' to pluck a strand of hair from his scalp.

Intimate letters

Princess Diana's former lover, James Hewitt, is being accused by the News of the World of going back on his word never to release intimate letters from their affair.

The paper says its journalists - posing as middlemen for a Swiss tycoon - received an offer from Mr Hewitt to sell the letters for 10m.

The former army officer is said to have told them he had already received an offer from an American collector of 4m for 10 of the princess' most revealing letters.

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