The Spectator

Portrait of the Week – 14 December 2002

A speedy round-up of the week's news Ê

The purchase by Miss Cherie Booth, Mrs Tony Blair, for a total of just over half a million pounds of two flats in Bristol, one for her son Euan to use when attending university, set off a lively game of hunt the issue. Someone called Mr Peter Foster was found to have acted on her behalf in the deal, and he turned out to be a convicted conman, specialising in unreliable slimming remedies and awaiting deportation to Australia; he exchanged many emails with Mrs Blair, one of his saying: ‘Your pleasure is my purpose’. The Prime Minister’s spokesman had earlier denied Mr Foster’s part in buying the flats. He is the boyfriend of Miss Carole Caplin, who, it emerged, as Mrs Blair’s ‘lifestyle guru’ interested her in ridding herself of ‘toxins’ in a shower. And then it was discovered that the flats had been acquired by the blind trust set up to administer the Blairs’ assets independently. Mrs Blair made a televised statement in which she said she chose her friends with care and that ‘Carole Caplin has been a trusted friend and support’. The government proposed a form of ‘civil partnership’ to allow couples of the same sex the same rights as married couples. In the trial for the murder of Damilola Taylor, evidence was withheld from the jury through judicial failings, and errors were made by the police, according to an inquiry chaired by the Rt Revd John Sentamu, the Bishop of Birmingham. Marks & Spencer persuaded Mr Vittorio Radice, the head of Selfridges, to join them. Cable and Wireless’s debt rating at Moody’s fell to Ba1, junk status, from A3 a month before. The government undertook to spend £183 million boring a tunnel for one and a third miles past Stonehenge, instead of £23 million on a cut-and-cover tunnel that had been opposed by the National Trust; some want a longer tunnel.

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