LETTERS: Cherie Blair and the poll tax defaulter

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The Independent Online
Last week, our main front-page article reported that Cherie Blair, a barrister and the wife of the Labour leader Tony Blair, had acted in a series of cases for councils pursuing poll tax defaulters. In one case, she asked a judge to return a bail ed defaulter to jail. We also reported that she had given a conference paper on how to enforce the law, including the threat of prison, against defaulters. A leader explained our decision to publish the story.

In response, we received nearly 100 letters. A large majority of these said we were wrong to give the story such prominence. Below, we publish a selection.

CHERIE Blair's statement that she was "simply anxious" that a penniless poll tax defaulter should be made to pay up in cash or kind is, to say the least, a piece of understatement. What about the plaintiff's anxiety, indeed anguish, at finding himself with only £4 left to spend each week?

Ms Booth may not have ever suggested that "people who can't afford to pay or who are poverty-stricken should have action taken against them"; she did more, by ensuring that effective action was taken in this case.

She might now ponder the recent fate of another handsome couple across the Atlantic and the complications of attempts at "empowerment" by upwardly mobile barrister spouses of supposedly sensitive politicians.

Brian J Mallet Geneva, Switzerland

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