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.

NO WONDER you found it necessary to print a defensive editorial about your front-page story on Cherie Blair. The case it made was far from convincing but it did suggest that you knew your readers would be surprised by the article. I have seen no activityor pronouncements in the political world by Mrs Blair which would justify her legal activity coming under a spotlight. The fact that she appears in public with her husband is a feeble and ludicrous explanation of why her barrister's client li st should merit a front-page splash. Since you admit that barristers have to take cases on the "cab- rank" basis and that the Labour Party was always firm in saying that the poll tax law had to be respected, the story is all the more indefensible.

George Robertson MP House of Commons London SW1