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Thursday, 12 December, 2002, 13:25 GMT
Cherie: The victim of a con
Prime Minister's wife Cherie Blair
Mrs Blair's speech has failed to end questioning

So Downing Street has finally said it - Cherie Blair was simply con man Peter Foster's latest victim.

Like Samantha Fox before her, the prime minister's wife was taken in by the most plausible of fraudsters.

And he is still at it, according to the prime minister's official spokesman.

Peter Foster
Foster documents not read
Pressed about the latest allegations surrounding Mrs Blair's role in Mr Foster's deportation case, the spokesman denied all the claims and said he was rapidly reaching the point where he would answer no more questions.

And he told the media: "Even if you have not moved on, the public have. We are not going to continue to dance to the tune of Peter Foster, a convicted conman."

Security lapse

In other words, not only did Mr Foster take in the prime minister's wife but, as far as they are concerned, he is behind the leaks which form the basis of the "campaign of character assassination" against her.

That, in itself, raises serious concerns about the fact that such a man was ever allowed to get as close to the prime minister's family as Mr Foster did.

Security arrangements around Mr Blair and his wife and children have been massively stepped up since 11 September.

And the security services monitor all the family's associations.

Earlier in this row, Downing Street refused - quite reasonably - to comment on security issues.

But when pressed over the possible lapse in Mr Foster's case, a spokesman replied: "It's a matter of how wide do you spread the net."

Warning bells

Many will believe it should have been wide enough to sweep up a man with a significant criminal record, who is facing deportation from the UK and who, in the past, has had a pretty high public profile.

But we are being asked to accept that his relationship with one of Cherie Blair's closest friends, Carole Caplin who was pregnant by him, was never picked up.

Carole Caplin
Caplin supports her friend
Or, if it was, warning bells were not sounded in Downing Street.

Or, if warning were issued they were simply ignored.

Meanwhile, there is the fresh revelation that Ms Caplin took documents about her boyfriend's deportation case to Mrs Blair's flat then, after a conversation with her, asked for more to be faxed to the flat.

But, we are reassured by Downing Street, Mrs Blair refused to read them or offer any advice to her distraught friend.

The trouble here, of course, is that as a result of the previous and deliberate attempts to "mislead" the press over Mrs Blair's relationship with Mr Foster, journalists are understandably sceptical.

Downing Street went through all the latest accusations and dismissed each one.

But it is clear the machine is at the end of its tether over this affair.

Each time they succeed in damping down one bush fire another one breaks out somewhere else.

And there is the lingering suspicion that, somewhere out there, there may be a bombshell fact just waiting to be dropped.

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See also:

12 Dec 02 | Politics
11 Dec 02 | Politics
11 Dec 02 | Politics
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