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Wednesday, December 24, 1997 Published at 18:48 GMT


Cabinet Minister's son arrested
image: [ The news will be a Christmas shock for Labour ]
The news will be a Christmas shock for Labour

The son of a Cabinet Minister, who has not yet been named, has been arrested for allegedly dealing in drugs.

Reports published in The Mirror and other national newspapers have now been confirmed in part by Downing Street and the Labour Party.

A journalist on the paper says that after an anonymous tip-off, she went to a London pub where she met the Minister's son.

She alleges that he sold her just under two grammes of cannabis resin. The editor of The Mirror then phoned the son's parent, to confront them with the story. The Minister is said to have been shocked and concerned.

The youth later went voluntarily to a police station in London, accompanied by one of his parents.

He was arrested on suspicion of supplying a small amount of cannabis and was released on bail.

A Downing Street spokesman says the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, is supporting the Minister concerned and spoke to him on Monday.

Chris Blackhurst of the Independent on Sunday calls for a debate
"The question of the Minister resigning does not even arise," he said.

"Not for one second does the question of him (the Prime Minister) having anything less than total confidence in the Minister arise."

Mirror journalists were not available for comment on the story but Chris Blackhurst, the joint deputy editor of the Independent on Sunday - a stablemate of The Mirror - says the incident should restart the debate on the use of cannabis. The Independent on Sunday launched a campaign to legalise cannabis in late September.

"The law in this area is an ass ... this issue should be debated in the House of Commons," he said.

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