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Wednesday, January 21, 1998 Published at 20:38 GMT


Surprise call for PM
image: [ Blair knew the call was a hoax: 'William Hague never calls meTony' ]
Blair knew the call was a hoax: 'William Hague never calls meTony'

Watch this story in Real Video
A hoax caller pretending to be the Conservative leader, William Hague, managed to penetrate the tight security around the Downing Street telephone switchboard to speak to the Prime Minister.

Hear the hoax call in this report from Max Cotton (2'27)
The radio DJ Steve Penk duped the Number 10 switchboard into believing he was William Hague. After chatting for a while he then offered the surprised Mr Blair a copy of a Cher exercise video.

Mr Penk from London-based Capital Radio made the call on his on mid-morning show.

[ image: The man behind the voice -  DJ Steve Penk]
The man behind the voice - DJ Steve Penk
Mr Blair's secretary was initially suspicious that the telephone call was a hoax, but Mr Penk's accent was so convincing that soon he was connected to the Prime Minister.

However Mr Blair was not so easily fooled. He immediately rumbled the prank but played along in good humour. After a few minutes the two were cut off.

Tony Blair: tells the Commons about his "interesting call" (21")
The Prime Minister later related the event in the House of Commons during Prime Minister's Question Time, to the great amusement MPs from all parties.

The Prime Minister's official spokesman said that Mr Blair had known straightaway it was a hoax call because Mr Penk had called him "Tony".

"William Hague never calls him 'Tony'," he said.

Mr Blair was reported to have enjoyed himself so much that he was a little disappointed when the conversation ended so quickly.

Extract from the conversation

Blair: I'm just trying to work out who it is really. Well, of course, it's... You've done very well to get through the network, you must have taken them in very well on the switchboard.

Penk/Hague: Well no, all it was I was talking to John Prescott the other day and he said that you wanted that Cher exercise video that you were interested in ... We went to the car boot sale (Blair laughing in the background) me and Ffion and managed to find it and so perhaps I can let you have it in the Commons today.

Blair: I think it would be very helpful, just hand it over at Prime Minister's Question Time. It will be a better exchange than usual.

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