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Tuesday, 4 December, 2001, 10:54 GMT
Thatcher defends Blair boy
Cherie Blair and Euan applaud a speech by Tony Blair during 2001 election campaign
Cherie tried to help Euan with school assignment
Carol Thatcher has leapt to the defence of the prime minister's teenage son, Euan Blair, after government officials were reportedly drafted in to help with his homework.

If your address is Downing Street you can potentially tap into a staggering selection of movers and shakers

Carol Thatcher
Although she was "well past" homework by the time her mother, former Conservative prime minister Margaret, entered Number 10, Ms Thatcher said she did not blame Euan for seeking help in high places.

"If your address is Downing Street you can potentially tap into a staggering selection of movers and shakers, VIPs and experts, the neighbours and so on - and good luck to him," she told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

Euan's mother, Cherie Blair, is reported to have asked a Downing Street official to help him prepare for a class debate on the nuclear deterrent.

In a move likely to be envied by pupils across the land, the official then decided to contact the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to see whether they could help.

'Quality help'

"I hope he got some quality help from the Ministry of Defence and made a jolly good contribution to his school debate," said Ms Thatcher.

Carol Thatcher
Thatcher: 'contacts make the world go round'
"Contacts and friends in high places make the world go round."

Dismissing suggestions that the Blairs were wasting valuable government resources, Ms Thatcher said she was sure civil servants were "capable of doing a homework project and running a war, otherwise they should not be in their jobs".

'Enormous pressure'

Teachers' leader Nigel de Gruchy also rejected suggestions the Blairs were abusing their position.

My sympathy here is very much with the mother

Nigel de Gruchy, NASUWT
"My sympathy here is very much with the mother," the NASUWT leader said.

"If she had to bend a few rules, she is not the first parent to do that and she will not be the last.

"There is enormous pressure on youngsters to succeed and parents will bend over backwards to do what they can to help them."

Euan's task

Euan's task - according to the Evening Standard newspaper - was to take part in a debate about the nuclear deterrent, arguing in its favour.

David Lloyd George
Lloyd George: daughter was a keen student
Asked about reports Mrs Blair had contacted the MoD directly herself, Tony Blair's official spokesman said on Monday: "I think it's a bit of a classic Chinese whispers.

"She hasn't phoned up the MoD about anything.

"She asked a Number 10 official if he had any material on the stocks which was generally available and this official then contacted the MoD on his own initiative."

The name of the official - and whether he was able to help Euan - has not been revealed by Downing Street.

The 17-year-old son of the prime minister, who attends the London Oratory, first attracted significant media attention when he was arrested for being drunk and incapable in July 2000.

The teenager was found by police officers in Leicester Square, in London's West End, after celebrating the end of his GCSE exams.

Lloyd George

Euan Blair is not the first keen young student to have lived at Number 10.

Ms Thatcher told the story of Olwen Carey-Evans, daughter of David Lloyd George, who was sent to France by her father to take a course in the language.

Eager to find out how much she had learned, Lloyd George asked her to translate during his discussions with the French munitions minister.

"She told me 'I did quite well until we got on to the technicalities. I had trouble with barbed wire entanglements,'" Ms Thatcher recalled after meeting Mrs Carey-Evans at a Downing Street reception.

"That's quite something for a novice linguist, Lloyd George's daughter or not," she added.

Former prime minister's daughter, Carol Thatcher
"I hope Euan got some quality help"
NASUWT's Nigel De Gruchy
"I think there is an enormous amount of pressure on youngsters to succeed"

Project parents
Do you give a hand with the homework?
See also:

03 Oct 01 | England
Euan Blair fights off muggers
31 May 01 | Education
Blair's son is to be deputy head boy
06 Jul 00 | UK Politics
Euan: Growing up at No.10
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