QUOTES OF THE YEAR

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"Any parent wants the best for their children. I am not going to make a choice for my child on the basis of what is the politically correct thing to do."

Tony Blair, December

"I know nothing about Mohamed Al Fayed's business dealings, but I do know he cares greatly about children."

Esther Rantzen, October

"I've never discussed private matters and I don't think the Queen has either. Very few members of the family have."

The Duke of Edinburgh, October

"£21m . . . That's a lot of bananas, isn't it, even for a Tesco heiress?" Jeremy Paxman, presenter of 'Newsnight' to Shirley Porter (above), then leader of Westminster Council, January

"I'm the chap who builds motorways through places like Twyford Down and when people complain, I say f--- off.''

Sam Small, Young Conservative, October

"The art of leadership is saying no, not saying yes. It is very easy to say yes."

Tony Blair, October

"His whole pride and joy is on display. He looks magnifique. You English can be proud of him."

'Paris Match' employee, describing nude photos of the Prince of Wales, September

''Sure thing, man, I used to be a laboratory myself once.''

Keith Richard on being asked to autograph a fan's school chemistry book, August

''Surely nothing could be that funny." George Melly on being told by Mick Jagger that his wrinkles were laughter lines, August

"[My promotion] has come at a difficult time as I have a full appointment book."

Sir Paul Beresford, dentist and MP, on his elevation to Under Secretary of State at the Department of Environment, July

"I feel that the House should know that I have never, and would never, eat a horse."

Nicholas Soames (above), Minister for Food, March

"Can I keep my teeth in?''

Joseph Berry, Arnhem veteran, preparing for his first parachute jump for 50 years, July

"Men are much bitchier than women."

Margaret Beckett, campaigning for the Labour leadership, July

"Honest as the day is long. But I never fancied him."

Clare Latimer, Downing Street cook, on John Major, June

"Some of the dishes Mrs Ward cooked were simply not acceptable. I wouldn't even accept them as mistakes from my wife."

Brigadier Vere Hayes of his former cook, May

"Women are complex creatures but I can read them like a book - trouble is, I keep losing my place."

Sir Antony Buck, ex-husband of Bienvenida, March

"Someone, somewhere is going to think I am mad."

Princess of Wales (above) to Richard Kay of the 'Daily Mail', August

"If any of you have got an A-level it is because you have worked to get it. Go to any other country and when you have got an A-level you have bought it."

Michael Portillo, to students at Southampton University, February

"Everybody argues, but to cut a man's penis off. I don't see no sense in that."

Paul Dodson testifying at the trial of Lorena Bobbitt, January

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