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Old 01-18-2006, 10:06 AM   #1
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Plot to kidnap Blair son 'foiled'

What a good idea for publicity!

LONDON, England -- Fathers' rights campaigners planned to kidnap British Prime Minister Tony Blair's youngest son for a publicity stunt, according to reports in the British media.

Citing an unnamed security source, The Sun newspaper on Wednesday said people on the fringe of the Fathers 4 Justice (F4J) group aimed to snatch 5-year-old Leo Blair and hold him for a short period.

Following the report, the group -- which campaigns for the rights of divorced fathers -- suspended its activities and confirmed that police had questioned some of its former members before Christmas.

According to media reports, police foiled the plan at an early stage, and it was unclear whether the people involved had the capability to carry it out or how far the scheme had progressed.

The reports said the threat was uncovered before Christmas while officers were investigating people who had been associated with the fringes of the group.

Leaders of the group denied any involvement, and one of its founding members, Matt O'Connor, said he condemned the idea of kidnapping Blair's son "unreservedly."

In a statement on the group's Web site, O'Connor said he was suspending the operations of the group and that the campaign would close if necessary.

The statement said: "F4J say they condemn any such action unreservedly and that the group is increasingly having it's name 'hijacked' by a growing number of militant extremists and that it would seriously consider the long-term viability of the campaign.

"The group say that ex-members have reportedly been in contact with the Anti-Terrorist Unit SO13 from Scotland Yard who said that activists would be shot on sight if engaged in any protests in Westminster."

O'Connor said: "After peacefully campaigning for three years to ensure children get to see their fathers, we condemn any individual who planned this appalling outrage which is anathema to our campaign.

"I have three young boys myself and couldn't think of anything more traumatic for Mr. Blair, his family and his son than what is reported in this morning's Sun newspaper; however, we should approach the story with caution as it carries very little information in it.

"If the police have enough information they should not only release the names of those involved but prosecute them. This kind of coverage unravels all the good work we have done over the last three years, though I despair that the desperation of fathers only reflects the intransigence of the government to address the crisis in family law.

"If our position is constantly undermined by extremists, we will shut down the Fathers 4 Justice campaign.

"I will not let this organization be hijacked by militants and I ask all fathers to respect our commitment to peaceful non-violent direct action no matter how aggrieved they feel about their treatment at the family courts."

Scotland Yard and Downing Street refused to comment.

Apart from Leo, Blair and his wife, Cherie, have three other children -- Euan, 21, Nicholas, 20, and Kathryn, 17.

Members of F4J have previously scaled high-profile buildings, including Buckingham Palace, dressed as superheroes, and campaigners threw purple powder at the prime minister as he was speaking in the House of Commons.
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