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Gazette's Blair exclusive down to links with local MP

The Shields Gazette was the only publication permitted to interview former PM Tony Blair after an hour-long lecture in South Shields.

The paper was granted the first one-to-one since he became Middle East peace envoy, despite requests from media organisations including Sky News, BBC’s Newsnight, The Times and The World at One.

He fielded questions from reporter David MacLean backstage on subjects ranging from the cash for honours inquiry to the Iraq war.

David said: “Tony Blair’s office originally blocked all interviews, but [South Shields MP] David Miliband stepped in and asked if he’d speak to the Gazette.

“It was a unique opportunity to ask any questions and he had no idea what was going to be put to him.

“He was frank and open, and spoke candidly about his decision to send troops to Iraq, and his relationship with David Miliband.”

Afterwards, the two MPs attended a dinner at a South Shields fish and chip restaurant with guests including Gazette editor John Szymanski.

John said: “His visit culminated in a world exclusive for us and there was a lot of clamour from the media. It was a coup for us and for South Tyneside.”


alfie bewick (06/05/2008 00:00:16)
come back tony all is forgiven