Blair Signs Up for Credit Union Dec 10th 2004
By Rod Minchin, PA
Prime Minister Tony Blair joined a credit union today as he began a series of engagements in his County Durham constituency. Mr Blair, accompanied by his wife Cherie, started his day in Trimdon Village where he joined the local credit union.  As Mr Blair signed the official membership papers, he joked: “I can’t see what I’m signing, I haven’t got my specs on.” His wife replied: “I’m a lawyer. You do not sign anything you haven’t read.”
The South West Durham Credit Union collects money each week from its members before giving out low interest loans to those that need it. Later Mr Blair met children from St William’s Roman Catholic Primary School and Trimdon Village Infant School at a row of shops in the village, which the children have decorated for Christmas.  The Prime Minister was then officially launching the CBI-backed £6 million Aspire project that aims to plug the region’s skills gap. He is also joining elderly constituents at a luncheon club Christmas dinner.

Ticking gift posted to Blair home 13th October 2004
The Daily Record
A TV company sparked a bomb alert when they posted a pedometer to Tony Blair.  Tyne Tees Television sent the Prime Minister and other MPs the gadget, used to measure how far you have walked, as part of a fitness programme. The devices were sent to their home addresses, including Blair’s house, Myrobella, in Trimdon, County Durham.  As the unmarked parcel was put through the X-ray machine used to scan all Blair’s post, staff were horrified to see an image of a battery and a ticking clock face. The bomb squad were called in from Catterick, Yorkshire, to deal with what staff thought could be a terrorist explosive device. A police spokesman said: ‘After taking a look using their specialist equipment, they found the device was nothing more than a pedometer. ‘They had been sent to the Prime Minister and other north- east MPs by a senior executive at Tyne Tees Television in a well-meaning bid to promote ITV’s Britain On The Move campaign.’
Tyne Tees bosses were told that while Blair appreciated the sentiments, the next time they decided to send such a gift to the Prime Minister it was advisable to inform the police first. A spokeswoman for Newcastle-based Tyne Tees said: ‘We were advised that in Westminster there was a lot of interest shown in the campaign, so we sent a pedometer to all of our local MPs. ‘It was during the summer recess so they went to the constituency addresses. We did get a call from Durham police asking to confirm that we had sent it.’ Experts believe adding extra steps to your daily total has many health benefits.

Goodbye DIY stores, hello Jimmy Choo 3rd October 2004
David Smith, The Guardian, The Observer, Sunday October 3, 2004
Blairs’ new London address is a world away from constituency home in Durham
They may be sorry to leave the simplicity of village life and the bracing country air, but when Tony and Cherie Blair quit their constituency home for Connaught Square, central London, they will not be in want of shopping opportunities or celebrity neighbours. The closest business to Myrobella – the former pit deputy’s home in Sedgefield, Durham, bought by the couple in 1983 – is Lamb’s Funeral Services. Little remains of what used to be called the High Street in Trimdon Colliery, a village given its name by a coal mine which closed in 1966.
PTS Timber & Hardware Supplies has seen better days, and few people are taking up the offer of freshly made sandwiches on the plastic board outside D&J Jordan Off-Licence & Grocer. The Style Studio has a sticker in its front window which says ‘Exclusive Salon’ – a claim that would have more credence if the weather-beaten sign had lost fewer letters. Shopper Dorothy Elward, 56, said: ‘There is nowt here. If I want to get some shopping in, I have to catch the bus to Hartlepool – that is, when they are running.’ The nearest shop of reasonable size is in Trimdon Village. The Blairs took a tour of the store when it opened, Cherie posing for the cameras with a bunch of bananas in her basket. Last week the Blairs splashed out £3.6 million on 29 Connaught Square, a five-storey Georgian town house near London’s Marble Arch. Affluent neighbours include Paul Oakenfold, the DJ and composer of the Big Brother theme, while Madonna and Stella McCartney live close by.
Blair need only nip around the corner, past six art galleries, to find the Iraqi-owned Le Chef restaurant, where Delia Smith once cooked and Iraq’s interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi was a regular. Its manager, Baghdad-born Haidar Alyassriy, said: ‘Mr Allawi and all the present Iraqi government have come here since Saddam. We would like to invite Tony Blair from the first day he will be a neighbour. I respect what he did in Iraq. I am happy and I think 99 per cent of Iraqis in Britain feel the same.’
Should Carole Caplin fail to move in too, Cherie can choose from Ruth’s Beauty Salon, Connaughts Hair & Beauty or, a short walk away, Daniel Galvin’s. The pampering possibilities are endless, including aromatherapy, arasys inch loss, electrolysis, eyelash tinting, facials, thread vein removal and waxing. If she gives up bargain-hunting on eBay, Cherie need only walk around the corner to Jimmy Choo Couture, where bespoke shoes can go for £900. Blair can toast the good times at Arturo, a new restaurant with more than a whiff of Granita about it. Amid the pristine white tablecloths and bare wood floor, the fare is distinctly more New Labour than Old. General manager Paul Puglisi, from Sydney, said: ‘If the Blairs come regularly, I’m sure we can always find room for them.’

Pro-hunt demonstration outside Blairs’ house 15th September 2004
Richard Dodd, a regional director of the Countryside Alliance;
Last week around 300 of us turned up outside Tony Blair’s home in Trimdon Colliery, County Durham. We were shouting and blowing hunting horns … Word came back that a few of us would be allowed in to speak to him and we had 20 minutes with him, talking about hunting over a cup of tea. If we had written to him asking for a meeting we would have had no chance. Direct action clearly works and I think we will be doing more of it. Original source : 15/09/2004

Rise of the countryside militants shows despair at failure of lobbying
By Jason Bennetto, Crime Correspondent, 16 September 2004
The violence and disruption that erupted both inside the House of Commons and on the surrounding streets yesterday reflects the growing militancy among small sections of the pro-hunting lobby. It emerged last night that one of the five protesters who broke into the chamber of the House was Otis Ferry, the 21-year-old son of the musician Bryan Ferry. Mr Ferry, who has led the South Shropshire Hunt since May, has acquired a reputation as a high-profile, and at times radical, campaigner against the hunting ban. His mother, Lucy, Bryan Ferry’s former wife, is also a supporter of the cause. The former Etonian who abandoned his education to pursue his love of hunting, Mr Ferry has made no secret of the fact that he claims to be prepared to go to jail to defend the right to hunt. In an outspoken critique of the tactics used by the pro-hunting lobby, he has also said: “Its tactics have been too soft. We have to get the Government to notice us.” His own tactics have resulted in him getting increasingly noticed by the authorities. Mr Ferry was one of a delegation of five allowed to discuss the hunting issue with Tony Blair last week at his house in Trimdon, near Sedgefield, County Durham, after hundreds of protesters arrived at his doorstep.
Last year, Mr Ferry was arrested while attempting to place pro-hunting Countryside Alliance posters on the walls of the same building in Sedgefield in the early hours of the morning. He was released without charge.

Last night, one senior Countryside Alliance official who wished to remain anonymous, distanced the organisation from his actions and described how Mr Ferry represented a more radical wing of the pro-hunting movement. “We’re certain that Otis Ferry was one of the protesters arrested in the chamber,” he said. “It wouldn’t come as much surprise to anyone. We do not approve of what they did. They were clearly very well prepared and they had builders’ gear and maybe even builders’ passes.” The number of radical protesters breaking away from the mainstream Countryside Alliance has increased in the past three years, many forming splinter groups.
The most militant is the Real Countryside Alliance, or Real CA. The leader of the group, which has a small but growing number of supporters, is Edward Duke, a member of the Middleton Hunt in Yorkshire, who was, briefly, chief executive of the Countryside Alliance. In an interview last year he warned: “When it comes to it, we will want to set fire to motorways and [Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs] offices. We can do naughty things.”  Another more radical organisation is the Countryside Action Network (CAN), led by Janet George, a former press officer for the Countryside Alliance and the British Field Sports Society. She left the alliance six years ago after a clash with Mr Duke, who was the chief executive at the time. In the past, CAN has organised go-slow protests using tractors and farm vehicles on motorways across England and Wales.

The use of blockades reflects the growing crossover between countryside campaigners and those involved in the fuel protests in 2000.
Original source;

‘Plot’ to kill Tony Blair thwarted 17th August 2004
This story is from The Sunday Sun / network Source: The Courier-Mail
By Ben English in London 17 August 2004
BRITISH anti-terror authorities have foiled a suspected al-Qaeda plot to assassinate Prime Minister Tony Blair. Police swooped on two Lithuanian asylum seekers believed to be spying on Mr Blair’s home in his constituency in England’s north. The men were caught with hi-tech surveillance equipment less than a kilometre from Mr Blair’s countryside home. Sources said the pair raised alarm bells because they displayed the characteristics of al-Qaeda spying behaviour. Using a stolen car fitted with false number plates, they filmed roads and traffic surrounding their alleged target and were carrying a highly-detailed map of the country area of Trimdon in County Durham.
“To dismiss these as nothing more than a couple of wandering foreigners out to see the British countryside is stretching it a bit,” a security source told Britain’s Daily Express newspaper.
Intelligence officials are reportedly working on the theory that the men had been hired by intermediaries to keep higher-ranking members of the terror cell at arms length.
“This is classic al-Qaeda behaviour, a textbook example of one way the terrorists would gather information about a possible target,” the security source said. “Video equipment like that wasn’t normally the kind of gear you’d expect a hard-up asylum seeker to be carrying about..”
After their arrest, the Lithuanians were deported. Police said they were satisfied no security issues were involved.