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Saturday, 3 June, 2000, 10:17 GMT 11:17 UK
Baroness 'lied' about schooling
Accusations continue over university elitism
The Conservatives have called for the resignation of Baroness Jay amid accusations that she lied about her education.

The Leader of the Lords has been accused of hypocrisy for making out her fee-paying school was a "pretty standard grammar school" during the row over elitism at English universities.

Baroness Jay, who made the comments during a television interview, says she did not mislead viewers.

Baroness Jay
Baroness Jay: Did not pay fees for schooling
As a direct grant pupil, she did not pay fees to attend Blackheath High School in south east London.

But the Tories say the independent school for girls has never been a grammar school or part of the state system.

Baroness Jay's comments were made during her appearance on ITV's Jonathan Dimbleby programme on 28 May.


A woman from the audience said she had gone to Cambridge University from an inner city comprehensive.

Baroness Jay told her: "I'm glad that you went to Cambridge - and I went to Oxford from a pretty standard grammar school."

This was a deliberate attempt to con the British public

Theresa May

But Tory education spokeswoman Theresa May said the Labour peer had sought to deceive the public about her educational past.

"This was a deliberate attempt to con the British public, on live television, into making them think she is something she is not," she said.

The parties have been at loggerheads over the alleged elitism by leading universities since chancellor Gordon Brown last month condemned Oxford University's decision to reject a highly qualified comprehensive school pupil as "an absolute scandal."

Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott, Foreign Secretary Robin Cook and Education Secretary David Blunkett have all backed Mr Brown prompting counter attacks by Tory leaders William Hague and Michael Portillo.

A spokeswoman for Baroness Jay, who is the daughter of former Labour premier James Callaghan, said her position remained clear.

"She has never disguised the fact that she went to a selective school in the 1950s," she said.

"The school she went to was a direct grant grammar school. She did not lie."

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See also:

03 Jun 00 | UK Politics
Brown's fresh salvo at elitism
02 Jun 00 | UK Politics
Prescott re-ignites universities row
31 May 00 | Education
Hague stokes elitism row
26 May 00 | UK Politics
Labour's 'class war' over Oxbridge
02 Jun 00 | UK Politics
Portillo joins elitist row
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