Heseltine snubs daughter's views on drugs

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The Independent Online
Michael Heseltine last night disowned the views of his daughter, Annabel, after she called for the legalisation of drugs.

The Deputy Prime Minister brushed off her remarks as nothing more than a youthful indiscretion. "She's an adult. It's not my job to argue with my daughter and try to second guess my daughter," he said as he was challenged about her remarks. "You would not do it to your daughter," he told journalists.

Mr Heseltine suggested that his daughter was following her career as an ambitious journalist. "She has a career of her own. She has expressed her own views."

His daughter's account in the Daily Mail of being offered a "sweet-smelling marijuana" joint at a dinner party, had clearly upset Mr Heseltine's breakfast. Ms Heseltine wrote: "Drugs have long been part of my life, although I am not a user."

She said she had been exposed to recreational drug-taking throughout her adult life. "At dinner parties in New York, cocaine came out first with the drinks, later with the coffee."

She added: "I have become convinced that legalisation could be the answer to our drugs crisis. It would not make drugs less socially acceptable, but it might lead to control of something which currently seems uncontrollable."

Mr Heseltine is not the first minister to be embarrassed by his daughter. Sir Nicholas Scott, the former social security minister, and his daughter, Victoria, had a public clash of views over provision for the disabled.

However, the timing of Ms Heseltine's intervention could hardly be worse - coming a day before Michael Howard, the Home Secretary, tells the conference about the Tories' plans for a fresh crackdown on drug dealers. And Mr Heseltine had been quick to criticise Clare Short, Labour's transport spokeswoman, when she suggested that legalisation of soft drugs should be considered.

It was astonishing, he said then, that "someone who could be a minister of the Crown should actually want to legalise drugs".

But after making it clear that he did not support his daughter's views, Mr Heseltine insisted: "I am very proud of her. She has her own views. I will not get involved in controversy with her."

That should make things easier when he gets back to the Heseltine household.