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Thursday, February 5, 1998 Published at 21:08 GMT


NY holding on to the 'Winnie the Pooh Five'
image: [ Winnie, Tigger, Kanga, Eeyore and Piglet:
Winnie, Tigger, Kanga, Eeyore and Piglet: "guests" of the New York library service

"The wonderful thing about Tiggers ... Is I'm the only one!"

VIDEO: BBC Correspondent Brian Barron on the cross-Atlantic tug of love (1'44'')
And that, in a nutshell (or perhaps a honey-pot), is the problem. There is only one Tigger and Pooh and Kanga and Eeyore and Piglet. And they, much to the chagrin of a British Labour MP, have been kept in a glass case in New York for decades.

The toys are the original animals, bought by AA Milne from Harrods in London more than 70 years ago. They formed the basis for his hugely popular Christopher Robin stories.

Tony Blair interviewed about Winnie on ABC TV (0.25")
Gwyneth Dunwoody wants them repatriated and has gone right to the top for help by enlisting her Labour colleague, the Prime Minister Tony Blair.

[ image: Rudi Giuliani: the former scourge of the Mafia intends to keep Winnie and Co in HIS city]
Rudi Giuliani: the former scourge of the Mafia intends to keep Winnie and Co in HIS city
However, as Mr Blair arrived in the US to discuss the Iraqi crisis the response from the Big Apple to Mrs Dunwoody's request was: "Get stuffed!"

The New York Post, in a front-page story on Thursday, bluntly told Mrs Dunwoody: "That's New York's response to Brits who want to yank Winnie the Pooh and his four plush friends from the comfort of their home at the New York Public Library and drag them back home to England."

Alan Bennet reading from the House at Pooh Corner (0'19'')
Even the Mayor of New York, Rudi Giuliani, has entered the fray by promising to fight to keep Winnie, Tigger, Kanga, Eeyore and Piglet in his city.

He declared: "This is no longer a foreign city. We were freed a long time ago." He described Mrs Dunwoody's campaign as "fightin' words", vowing to visit the stuffed animals to show his support.

However, Mrs Dunwoody, has insisted said that the figures are part of Britain's heritage and that they want to come home.

[ image: Tony Blair: satisfied that the  Five are well looked after]
Tony Blair: satisfied that the Five are well looked after
"I saw them recently and they look very unhappy indeed. I am not surprised, considering they have been incarcerated in a glass case in a foreign country for all these years."

She said the first publisher of the books took the stuffed animals over to New York and donated them to the library.

"Just like the Greeks want their Elgin marbles back so we want our Winnie the Pooh back, along with all his splendid friends and it is about time we got them back. This is where they belong. They plainly want to come home after 70 wasted years exile."

However, Mrs Dunwoody's hopes that Mr Blair will take a tough line with the Americans appear to be evaporating.

In his interview with the American TV network ABC, the Prime Minister said the issue would not be high on the agenda of his meeting with President Clinton.

He played down suggestions that the ex-pat. toys looked glum in their current home. "I'm sure they are perfectly well looked after where they are," he said.

"I seem to remember they always did look a bit unhappy."

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