March 30, 1998 in Nation/World

Paper Obtains Papers Outlining Security For Prime Minister

Compiled From Wire Services

The government ordered an investigation Sunday after a London newspaper obtained documents outlining security arrangements at Prime Minister Tony Blair’s private home, including a secret escape route in case terrorists attacked.

The Sunday Times of London said a reporter paid a $20 fee to inspect house plans in the Sedgefield Council’s public records office.

The Blairs have a home in Trimdon Colliery, 250 miles north of London, in the Sedgefield parliamentary district that Blair represents in Parliament. They live mainly in London.

The newspaper said the files showed the precise location of infrared security cameras, types of locks and an escape route. They also contained an outline of security arrangements at a house next door that has been taken over as a police operations center.

Brian Stephens, leader of the Sedgefield Council, said the Home Office - the government department responsible for police and security - had not told his officials to keep the Blair house records secret.

“We are not responsible for the safety of the prime minister,” said Stephens. “Mr. Blair’s home in Trimdon is like Fort Knox, but it is up to the Home Office to consider if it is now less secure.”

The Sunday Times said the Home Office has now ordered the plans withdrawn from the public records. It said the government has ordered an investigation into why the house plans were not kept secret and whether security has been compromised.

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