PM 'slept rough' claims Cherie

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Indy Politics

You have heard of Tony Blair the teenage runaway, and Tony Blair the wide-eyed football fan watching the magic of Jackie Milburn. Now a new chapter has been opened in the mythical early life of our Premier - Tony Blair the rough sleeper.

The story was related by Cherie Blair to guests at a Downing Street reception for the homeless charity Centrepoint, a guest told the Sunday Mirror. "She said the charity was very close to Tony's heart because he was forced to sleep rough on a park bench when he first came to London."

The story is one more anecdote about the life of the Prime Minister. Unfortunately, not all of them have stood up to examination. Mr Blair once claimed that at the age of 14, he ran away to Newcastle airport and sneaked himself aboard a charter flight to the Bahamas. The story was contradicted by his father - and by the fact that there were no flights from Newcastle to the Bahamas in the late 1960s. Five years ago, the Prime Minister recalled watching Newcastle United play, and how Jackie Milburn was his favourite player. Milburn played his last game for the club in 1957, when Mr Blair was four.

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