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The BBC's June Kelly
"Leo's birth has increased interest in the family"
 real 56k

Sunday, 30 July, 2000, 16:53 GMT 17:53 UK
Blair's photo complaint defended
Leo Blair
An "official" picture of Leo at five weeks old
Downing Street has defended its decision to ask the Press Complaints Commission for guidance, after newspapers published pictures of Tony Blair taking his son Leo to be christened.

The Prime Minister's official spokesman said that although the photos were inoffensive, the Blairs did not want to see of an "open season" on photographs of their children.

Before Saturday's christening, Downing Street had said the ceremony was a strictly private occasion.


The Blairs want to protect their children's privacy
The PM's spokesman said: "This is not a formal complaint but we are genuinely seeking their advice on how best to handle a difficult area for the family."

He said that the number of well-wishers who turned up outside the church in the prime minister's Co Durham constituency showed the ceremony was something people "wanted to share".

But he added: "The Prime Minister and Mrs Blair are concerned that to give consent to publication on such occasions risks giving open season to the press not just in relation to the baby but their other children too.

He said the Blair's had a legitimate desire to see their children had a normal upbringing despite "the abnormal circumstances of being children of a serving prime minister".

The PCC code says children can only be photographed with the permission of their parents.

In a statement the Blairs expressed frustration that their wish to keep the ceremony private had been ignored by the publication of pictures in the Sunday Mirror, The People and the Mail On Sunday.

About 120 friends, family and constituency representatives were thought to have joined the Blairs at St John Fisher church in Sedgefield for the hour-and-a-half long service.

The christening was understood to have been conducted by Father John Caden, a friend of the Blairs, who has baptised all of the prime minister's children.

300 wellwishers

The service was followed by a reception at a restaurant in the village just a few yards from the church.

About 300 well-wishers turned out to watch the party emerge from the church, according to Durham Constabulary.

One godparent was one of Cherie Blair's childhood friends from Liverpool and the other an old school friend of Tony Blair in Edinburgh.

The Blairs have closely guarded their family privacy and only allowed 12-week-old Leo to have been seen in public a few times since his birth.

Earlier this month the Blairs' oldest son, Euan, 16, was reprimanded by police after being found drunk and incapable in a central London square.

The story got wall-to-wall media coverage but Press Complaints Commission guidelines were not broken because Euan had left school and had committed a criminal act in a public place.

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22 May 00 | UK Politics
All hail the lovely Leo
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