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Last Updated: Saturday, 1 May, 2004, 10:58 GMT 11:58 UK
PM 'watched director smoke grass'
Robert Altman
Robert Altman thought Blair's "cool" was a "pose"
Tony Blair remained unflinchingly cool while a film director lit up a cannabis joint during a party at a rock star's mansion, the Guardian has reported.

Hollywood maverick Robert Altman said he sparked up the after-dinner spliff in the PM's presence during a party given by Dave Stewart.

Instead of fleeing from the room, the PM calmly continued to enjoy the meal.

But Mr Blair did not partake and certainly did not inhale, Mr Altman said. Number 10 has refused to comment.

'Disappointed'

"We were sitting there smoking grass. He was sitting across from me, so I thought he was pretty cool," Mr Altman said.

But now, Mr Altman says, he mistook that "cool" for openness when it was in fact a "pose".

The director of the acclaimed film Short Cuts said he had since been very disappointed by the prime minister's relationship with President George Bush.

Mr Altman had been in Britain making the film Gosford Park when he attended the dinner party.

Cherie Blair was at the party given by the former Eurythmics star, but left before the "funny fags" were brought out, the film director said.

Other celebrities including Jerry Hall were at the party.

'Cool Britannia'

The Blairs mingled with popstars and artists during the first term of the Labour government

This helped to win Britain the "Cool Britannia" image which coincided with the PM's honeymoon period in office.

But even musicians like Oasis star Noel Gallagher, who has often spoken about his own use of drugs, never took them in front of Mr Blair.

Earlier this year, the government formally downgraded cannabis from a Class B to a Class C drug.

This means police no longer automatically arrest and charge people caught in possession of the drug or using it.

The penalty for possession of the drug was also reduced from five to two years' imprisonment.

But those dealing and trafficking the now drug face harsher sentences.

As part of the reclassification, the maximum penalty for trafficking any class C drug was increased from five to 14 years.

Though welcomed by some, the reclassification led to claims from the police the public was confused about what is and is not legal.


SEE ALSO:
Police fear 'cannabis confusion'
29 Jan 04  |  Politics
Cannabis decision condemned
04 Mar 04  |  Northern Ireland


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