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.

I CANNOT accept your assertion that you were somehow acting in the public interest by publishing an "account" of Cherie Blair's legal work. What point is it that you were trying to make? That in her professional life she found that she could not carry out Labour Party policy to the letter? Given that law comes from Parliament, I should imagine that many lawyers in the Labour Party would find themselves in this predicament during a period of Conservative rule. Should they resign from their work?

Furthermore, one would expect Martin Jacques and his lawyer to have a less-than- favourable view of Mrs Blair's court performance - after all they lost. And it was the judges who decided what action to take. And what of the councils that hired Mrs Blair?Who are they?

I am not saying don't be critical of the Labour Party. But please discuss its policies; don't engage in lecturing Mrs Blair on less-than-good evidence for something that happened when Tony Blair was not even the Labour leader.

Ian D Thatcher Glasgow