Cherie Blair: the press hounded my children

Cherie Blair has described how she had to constantly battle against the British press to prevent them publishing details about her children's private lives, with some papers frequently ignoring her wishes.

In an interview with CNBC Meets, Blair said that while she accepted press interest in herself, she didn't want any focus to be on her children. "I always felt they were entitled to their privacy and as much as a normal life as possible, because for that brief period they were in the public eye, there's no reason why for the rest of their lives they ever need to be in the public eye again," she said.

"So the one thing I would always go to town over was anytime they said things or brought my children into it. That didn't stop some of the press, the Daily Mail in particular, trying to do things about the children but I was able at least to prevent that happening too often."

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It is not the first time Britain's Daily Mail and Blair have clashed over the newspaper's coverage. Tony Blair told the Leveson Inquiry – formed to investigate press standards following the phone-hacking scandal – that the Daily Mail relentlessly attacked his wife and children in a "sort-of personal vendetta" campaign. The Daily Mail strongly denied the claim.

According to Cherie Blair's solicitors, the couple wrote 30 different letters in complaint against the Daily Mail between 2006 and 2011, some threatening legal action.

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair (2L) stands with his family (L-R) Euan, Kathryn, Leo, Cherie and Nicholas.
Peter Macdiarmid | Getty Images
Former Prime Minister Tony Blair (2L) stands with his family (L-R) Euan, Kathryn, Leo, Cherie and Nicholas.

Cherie Blair also experienced trouble with News International title News of the World, which was closed down by Rupert Murdoch in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal. Blair sued Murdoch's company for intercepting her voice-mail and received an undisclosed pay-out from the company last year.

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When her husband came into office, Cherie Blair decided it was best for her not to give any interviews because the couple didn't want the new Labour premiership to become a soap opera. Blair says she thought at the time, "Why would anyone necessarily be interested in other things?"

"Of course, in a sense that was a bit naive because people were interested and - because I didn't give interviews - it ended up that everything became focused on your appearance."

While Blair was angered at the press attention on herself and children, she doesn't show complete contempt for the British press.

"He (Tony) always said to me, 'You complain about the British press like you complain about the British weather: it's a fact of life. When it's nice, the sun comes out and we celebrate that, but you have to take the rain as well.'"

CNBC Meets: Cherie Blair airs on Wednesday 15 May.