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1997: Minister's son arrested in drug probe

The son of a Cabinet minister has been arrested on suspicion of supplying cannabis.

Police have confirmed a youth, who cannot be named for legal reasons, has been arrested after he went voluntarily to a police station.

It is understood he was accompanied by one of his parents.

The Metropolitan Police said he had been released on police bail, to return in the New Year.

It comes after reports in The Mirror newspaper and other national newspapers that after an anonymous tip-off a journalist went to a London pub where she met the minister's son.

She claims to have struck up a conversation with the 17-year-old.

It is alleged the teenager then offered to sell the reporter a small chunk of cannabis resin for 10, saying it was "good strong hash".

He sold her less than two grams of cannabis resin which were taken for tests at a laboratory.

No special privileges

The editor of The Mirror then phoned the parent of the teenager to confront them with the story and the minister is said to have been "shocked and concerned and vowed to investigate the allegations urgently".

It is understood the minister insisted the teenager should receive no special privileges and that the law take its normal course.

Police last night declined to give any details of the youth or the nature of any possible evidence against him.

A spokesman said he did not know the date on which the youth will be required to return.

Downing Street and the Labour Party have confirmed in part the sequence of events reported in the newspapers.

A Number 10 spokesman said the Prime Minister Tony Blair had been informed of the youth's arrest.

He said Mr Blair is supporting the minister concerned and spoke to him on the day in question.

The spokesman added: "The question of the minister resigning does not even arise," he said.

In Context
A court ruling preventing the media in England and Wales from revealing the names of the minister and the teenager was overturned by an English High Court because their identities had been revealed in several Scottish and non-British papers.

Those involved were the then Home Secretary Jack Straw and his son William.

The teenager received a police caution for trying to sell cannabis and the journalist involved, Dawn Alford, was herself questioned by police for possession of the drug - much to the outrage of her editor.

Following his A-levels, William studied politics, philosophy and economics at New College, Oxford.

In 2002 he was elected president of the Oxford University Students' Union.


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