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EDITIONS
Tuesday, 10 December, 2002, 23:43 GMT
Q&A: Cherie's speech
Cherie Blair faced the media to try to put to rest accusations over her financial involvement with a convicted conman. BBC political editor Andrew Marr assesses whether she was successful.

Why did Cherie Blair finally speak out?

Cherie Blair finally came forward to speak to the media because she had started to face very, very serious allegations.

Effectively, what she was being charged with, in terms of the questions that were posted to Number 10 this afternoon, was judge nobbling.

And if that was proved, or demonstrated against her, it wouldn't simply be Tony Blair's political career that took a knock, it would be her judicial career - that would really be over.

So that was very serious for her indeed, and it led to somebody who is after all normally in judgement, sitting up there on the judge's seat, standing before the court of public opinion pleading her case.


Those who feel that the Blairs are really just slightly cynical and brilliant actors, won't have their minds changed one iota

The other thing, I think, is that Tony Blair's got a big summit in Copenhagen coming up at the end of this week, and prime minister's questions tomorrow.

And this has been the story that has gobbled, like some kind of news monster, all the rest of their political agenda.

And this is their attempt to shoot it before it became too late.

It seemed not so much a defence of her actions - more a kind of appeal for understanding?

It was 'I've messed up big time. I'm really sorry. I'm only human. Forgive me'.

That was the subbed-down version of what she was saying, really. And that will impress, I'm sure, an awful lot of people out there.

But those who feel that the Blairs are really just slightly cynical and brilliant actors, won't have their minds changed one iota.

Will her statement put the matter to rest?

It will help with some of the newspapers and quite a lot of the people watching.


Even in the cynicism-soaked streets around me, this will take some of the heat out of it

I don't think it will stop the questions - very interesting and difficult questions.

For example, the accusation that she was looking down the list of the judges to tip off Carole Caplin about who was going to be the judge sitting in judgement over Peter Foster's extradition.

But I feel this has been such an extraordinary and explosive moment at Westminster, that even in the cynicism-soaked streets around me, this will take some of the heat out of it.

Who was her statement really aimed at?

Cherie Blair is somebody who patently hates doing this kind of thing.


This is really all about those newspapers - in particular the Mail and the Mail on Sunday - who can't stand the Blairs, and who they can't stand

This is really all about those newspapers - in particular the Mail and the Mail on Sunday - who can't stand the Blairs, and who they can't stand.

For them, it's a little bit like having a particularly tenacious bulldog with its teeth in your buttocks and it won't let go.

They've tried everything - they've tried tickling it, and giving it biscuits, and kicking it - and it's still there.

This was another attempt to get rid of this.

They dreamed of a world without their press critics - it's not a dream they will ever see, as long as they are in power.


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