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Saturday, 1 July, 2000, 15:29 GMT 16:29 UK
Schoolkids scoop Leo picture
Leo Blair
Five-week-old Leo was pictured asleep in his carrier
A group of schoolchildren have sparked media interest around the globe after snapping Leo Blair on his first public engagement.

Youngsters from St John's Roman Catholic Comprehensive school in Bishop Auckland, County Durham, photographed Prime Minister's wife Cherie Blair and her five-week-old baby on a local visit.

They kept the picture, taken at a Prince's Trust award ceremony at Durham County Cricket Club in Chester-le-Street, for a week before submitting it to The Northern Echo newspaper for their local school page.

After publication on Saturday, the picture prompted interest from media around the world, but a Downing Street spokesman said the Blairs had given no consent for the picture to be published and did not want it reprinted.

As far as I was concerned it was a harmless bit of fun

Peter Barron
Editor, The Northern Echo

"They do not want to get into a position where they have to seek to prevent members of the public taking pictures that may end up in newspapers," he said.

"The Prime Minister and Mrs Blair have always been grateful for the way in which the vast majority of newspapers have respected their children's right to privacy but think it is right, given the follow-up inquiries the publicity has generated, to issue this reminder and to point out once more the Press Complaints Commission guidelines on children."

PCC guidelines state that children should not be photographed without parental consent.

Editor of The Northern Echo Mr Peter Barron said: "As far as I was concerned it was a harmless bit of fun.

"We thought it was funny that children from a local school had scooped the world's media by getting this picture.

The Blairs want to protect their children's privacy

"At no stage have we sought to breach the privacy of the Blairs or sought to make any capital gain out of the picture at all.

"A freelance agency sent them round to national papers. It is a matter for them if they decide to give that money to charity which I believe they should."

Headteacher of the school Mr Brian Jones said: "We obviously did not set out to make any profit.

"It was an entirely innocent activity on the part of the pupils and we decided to send the photos to The Northern Echo for the school report page.

"We did not think for a moment it would cause any problems. I honestly believe that nobody could take offence that this was handled by the Northern Echo.

"They presented it as a bit of fun and we wish to make it clear that no-one was seeking to make any gain."

According to The Northern Echo, Leo slept in his baby carrier throughout the visit.

Michelle Bennett, 14, who spoke to Mrs Blair, told The Northern Echo: "The baby was gorgeous and Mrs Blair said he was a good baby who sleeps well. I think he looks like her."

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