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Carole Caplin loses No10 pass

Evening Standard, UK
Sep. 12, 2003
Patrick Hennessy, Deputy Political Editor • Monday September 22, 2003

Cherie Blair’s “lifestyle guru” Carole Caplin has suffered a blow with the withdrawal of a security pass giving her the freedom of 10 Downing Street.

Ms Caplin’s reverse came at the hands of Whitehall officials who conducted a high-level security review.

They were reportedly “horrified” that fitness instructor Ms Caplin was among a group of trusted aides and civil servants who were given the passes.

The swipecard allowed Ms Caplin to avoid police checks and searches at the Downing Street gates. She was allowed free movement around No10 at Mrs Blair’s personal request, it is claimed today. Now she must submit to the same checks as journalists and other visitors.

It was said today that Mrs Blair had ” reluctantly” agreed to the pass being withdrawn in April. The official reason was the security review – but the decision came only a few months after the “Cheriegate” affair.

Downing Street was landed in a massive political furore after denying, and then being forced to confirm, that Ms Caplin’s boyfriend Peter Foster, a convicted conman, had advised Mrs Blair on the purchase of two Bristol flats for a combined total of about 500,000.

Critics have attacked the all-pervasive influence on Mrs Blair’s life that Ms Caplin appears to wield. Her opponents are understood to have included Alastair Campbell, Downing Street’s outgoing communications director, and his wife Fiona Millar, a former aide to Mrs Blair.

Ms Caplin is paid a reported 5,000 a month but her friendship with Mrs Blair has caused tensions inside No10 and the pair are now encouraged to meet elsewhere.

Some officials were furious when Marie Claire magazine published photos inside No10 revealing details of the Blairs’ lives. One showed Ms Caplin applying Mrs Blair’s lipstick.

Ms Caplin, who claims she is “retained by Cherie and not by Downing Street,” is said to be close to signing a 300,000 deal for a book on feng shui, spiritual exercises and alternative grooming.

A Downing Street spokesman, asked about Ms Caplin’s pass, said: “We never comment on security matters.”

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