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Cherie Blair attacks US on death penalty in Catholic paper

Cherie Blair, Catholic wife of British Prime Minister Tony Blair, has renewed her attack on the use of the death penalty in the USA in a book review in the London Catholic paper The Tablet.

Mrs Blair, writing under her maiden name Cherie Booth, argued that because capital cases are "uniquely prone to error", it is questionable whether we can ever be "really sure of obtaining the just result".

She said: "The reality is that too many people - innocent people - are executed for the system to be able to claim a just precision."

The Tablet asked Mrs Blair, a Catholic, to review Ultimate Punishment, a book by US lawyer and novelist Scott Turow.

Mrs Blair takes the opportunity to promote her views about the death penalty, which is used in 38 US states. She begins the article suggesting that Americans are more aggressive than their European counterparts.

"The observation 'Americans are from Mars and Europeans are from Venus' is illustrated by the two nations' differing reactions to use of the death penalty," she writes.

It is not the first time that Mrs Blair has courted controversy with her outspoken views on the death penalty. According to a biography of Mr Blair by Philip Stephens, published last month, the British Prime Minister is reported to have "squirmed" when his wife challenged George W. Bush, the US president, over his support for the death penalty, during a dinner intended to bolster the "special relationship" between the US and Britain.

Meanwhile Catholic MP and former Home Office Minister Ann Widdecombe criticised Mrs Blair's outspokenness.

"I'm surprised the Prime Minister's wife is writing political articles in The Tablet. She has never understood that the role of the Prime Minister's wife is not to publicly interfere in political matters in this way."

Cherie Blair attacks US over death penalty in Catholic paper (London Daily Telegraph 8/2/04)

Cherie Booth: Death penalty: a lawyer sees the light (The Tablet 7/2/04)
Cherie [Blair] said Bush 'stole' power and tackled him on executions (Information Clearing House 24/1/04)

9 Feb 2004