Greetings from ********

By Dominic Ponsford

News agency Splash made a mockery of Tony Blair’s “secret” holiday
security arrangements by locating him before his plane had even touched
down.

The US-based agency has been filing exclusive pictures from the
Blair family’s exotic break over the past week, and although they have
been used widely in the UK press, the media has respected a Downing
Street request not to reveal the holiday location for “security
reasons”.

It is the first time that Downing Street has written to every national newspaper editor with a request of this kind.

When
asked if the various photos of Tony and Cherie in the tropical sun
contravened this agreement, a Downing Street spokesman said that
newspapers had been asked only not to picture the Blair children, a
request which has been respected.

The Sun has come closest to
giving the game away by revealing that the Blairs are somewhere in the
Caribbean. The unprecedented secrecy surrounding Blair’s foreign
holiday has been undermined by the fact that foreign media have
revealed the destination freely.

Although a five-minute search on
Google News will reveal the location of the Blair’s not-so-secret
holiday hideaway, Press Gazette has asterisked it out to abide by the
Downing Street request.

Splash Florida bureau chief David Leigh
has been to ******** seven times in the past year on different stories
and said he has good contacts with local police and tourism officials.
This meant he knew when the Blairs were due to touch down and where
they would be staying.

Leigh, a former head of news at the Daily
Express, said: “Splash has got a great photographer in ********, he’s
******** born and bred and works exclusively for us. He has fantastic
local knowledge and contacts.

“It’s impossible for anyone to do anything on ******** without him knowing about it.

“I
was there as Cherie Blair arrived on Thursday and when Tony arrived
onSaturday. Blair’s people have been very twitchy about security but
their main concern has been to know who’s around.

“They are experienced and sensible guys. As long as they know who you are and where you are, they are okay about it.”

Leigh
said Splash has steered clear of breaching the PCC code by limiting its
photography of the Blairs to beaches and other public places.

“We
knew which flights they were coming in on and saw them arrive and head
off. We also knew they were staying at ***** *******’s place.”

Leigh added: “There are thousands of people who know where he is.

“He
came in on a scheduled BA flight and was seen by a lot of people. He’s
also been at hotels where a lot of British people have been staying and
he’s been spotted by Brits every day.

“When people come up to him
and say hello he always stops and shakes their hand – so it’s not the
world’s biggest secret that he’s here.”

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