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Tuesday, 1 August, 2000, 16:49 GMT 17:49 UK
Blair in holiday snaps U-turn
Leo Blair
An "official" picture of Leo at five weeks old
Tony Blair has done a U-turn over posing for family summer holiday photographs - 24 hours after calling off the traditional photo-shoot.

On Monday, the prime minister cancelled the media's annual holiday-photo opportunity in a row over unauthorised snaps of his new baby son, Leo.

Mr and Mrs Blair with baby Leo
Mr and Mrs Blair with Leo soon after he was born
It followed the publication in three Sunday newspapers of Leo being taken to his christening.

Newspaper editors branded the move churlish and petty, insisting that they did respect the family's privacy.

Mr Blair's change of heart came after discussions between Number 10 and Lord Wakeham, chairman of the Press Complaints Commission.

Lord Wakeham said the "most constructive way to strike the balance between legitimate privacy and legitimate public interest" was for the family to hold a photocall when they arrived for their summer break, and then appeal for privacy.

Public interest

A Downing Street spokesman said: "This is a difficult area, in that the prime minister and Mrs Blair wish their children to enjoy as normal an upbringing as possible and to be able to grow up without the constant glare of the media spotlight.

"However, they also accept that given the prime minister's very high public profile there is bound to be an interest in his family, particularly since the arrival of the baby.

"It's clear that the media would like some kind of photocall at the start of the family holiday and the prime minister and Mrs Blair are happy to do this, provided it is understood this is at the request of the media and that they can continue their holiday in private."

Downing Street said the photo-opportunity would take place in the first few days of their three-week holiday in Italy and France, which begins on Saturday.

The spokesman added: "As it is now well over a year since up-to-date photos of the older children were released, they have decided that all six of them will take part together in this photocall."

Leo's christening

Traditionally, camera crews and newspaper photographers are invited to take pictures of the prime minister as he or she begins their summer break.

The row blew up over the christening of baby Leo, who is 12 weeks old.

The event was at a Roman Catholic church in Mr Blair's Sedgefield constituency on Saturday.

Although the media had not been invited, the pictures of him were taken in a public place as Mr and Mrs Blair walked past several hundred onlookers who had gathered to see the couple and their baby arrive.

Downing Street had said it was not making a formal complaint to the Press Complaints Commission, but had said it asked for guidance on ensuring their children's privacy in future.

'Public proclamation'

Lord Wakeham said he had been asked for guidance on the christening issue and said he would be consulting widely before making any announcement.

Press Complaints Commission guidelines say journalists must not photograph a child on subjects involving the welfare of the child without the consent of a parent.

But some newspaper editors said the christening did not fall into this category and was a public proclamation of faith. Cancelling the holiday photo-shoot was unfair, they complained.

They suggested that cancelling the official holiday photograph may only increase the desire for snatched pictures.

Associate editor of The Times, Brian McArthur, said it seemed like a punishment for the media.

Not one editor had used a picture of 16-year-old Euan Blair, the prime minister's oldest son, when he was arrested for being found drunk and incapable in London's Leicester Square earlier this month, he said.

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See also:

31 Jul 00 | UK Politics
Blair cancels holiday photo-shoot
30 Jul 00 | UK Politics
Blair's photo complaint defended
22 May 00 | UK Politics
All hail the lovely Leo
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