The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Blair son kidnap plot ‘foiled’

London, Jan. 18: An alleged plot to kidnap Tony Blair’s five-year-old son, Leo, has been foiled by Scotland Yard, it was claimed today.

The plot had apparently been hatched by the fringe members of an organisation called “Fathers for Justice” ' sometimes written in these days of text messaging as Father4Justice or even F4J ' who had intended to hold Leo as a “publicity stunt” for only a few hours.

Fathers4Justice, which campaigns to secure better access for divorced fathers to their children, have disowned the plot and police have so far made no arrests.

Neither the Prime Minister nor his spokesmen would today discuss the events which apparently took place before Christmas. Leo is safe and well and being looked after by his parents at 10, Downing Street.

The Prime Minister and his wife, Cherie, have four other children ' Euan, 21, Nicholas, 20, Kathryn, 17.

In a recent interview, Blair, who has promised to tackle Britain’s growing “yob” culture, admitted he had smacked his older children but hadn’t done so with Leo.

Commentators will, no doubt, draw an unfavourable comparison between the strict security which understandably surrounds the Blair children and the thousands of kidnaps, including those of 200 foreigners, which have taken place in Iraq in the last year or two.

Some of the grisly beheadings, carried out by the kidnappers, have featured on videos shown on the Internet.

The latest kidnap victim is an American, Jill Carroll, 28, a freelance journalist working for the Christian Science Monitor, who was shown on Al Jazeera television last night. Her kidnappers have threatened to kill her unless the Americans release the women Iraqi prisoners being held by the occupying powers.

In London, police came across the plan to kidnap Leo when officers were conducting routine checks on members of Fathers4Justice.

In the past, Fathers4Justice have unfurled banners on the balcony of Buckingham Palace and on Big Ben. In another incident, Blair was flour bombed in the House of Commons.

These incidents ended peacefully ' one member was dressed as Batman ' but a repeat performance could end in tragedy. One of the group’s founding members, Matt ’Connor, who condemned the kidnap idea “unreservedly”, said: “We do peaceful direct action with a dash of humour. We’re in the business of uniting dads with their kids, not separating them.”

He disclosed: “There’s evidence to support the fact that there was something going on, because SO13 (an anti-terrorist unit) officers visited some ex-members of the organisation over the Christmas period. That had set alarm bells ringing.”

’Connor, who has himself had problems in the past getting access to his two children following an acrimonious divorce, said he had been warned that police “were threatening to shoot people if they did anything in the region of Downing Street”.

’Connor confirmed Fathers4Justice had been experiencing increasing trouble with some ex-members whom “we turfed out last year. We had a bit of a clear-out in May of people who wanted to take the organisation on a more militant route. Other people wanted to go to the dark underbelly of the campaign. It’s been a cause for concern for us for some time.”

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