Cameron faces cannabis allegations

David Cameron is under pressure to confirm or deny the reports
David Cameron is under pressure to confirm or deny the reports

David Cameron smoked cannabis while at secondary school, a new biography has claimed.

Today's allegations about the Conservative leader's alleged misbehaviour as a teen come in a biography by journalists Francis Elliott and James Hanning published in the Independent on Sunday newspaper.

The book cites contemporaries of Mr Cameron claiming that the 15-year-old Conservative leader-to-be was disciplined for smoking cannabis after confessing his misdeed to teachers.

Conservative party officials shrugged off the allegations, pointing out "this happened almost 25 years ago".

Making a brief statement outside his family home, Mr Cameron said: "Like many people I did things when I was young that I shouldn't have done and that I regret. But I do believe that politicians are entitled to a past that is private and that remains private and so I won't be making any commentary on what's in the newspapers today.

"That's really all I have to say on what for me is an important family day," he added.

Political analysts have said traditionalists within the Conservative party, already uneasy with their new leader's liberal-leaning agenda, disapprove of this incident.

Party grandee Lord Tebbit told BBC News yesterday that although disapproval was to be expected, he believed transgressions made while still a teenager should not prevent politicians from achieving high office.

"I think we have to take a reasoned view about these things, and the question now is whether or not he understands it is a highly dangerous drug and should be treated as such," Lord Tebbit said.

Current politicians took a more liberal attitude.

Shadow foreign secretary William Hague commented: "This makes no difference to my view of him or, I think, the view of most people in the country.

"He has always been very clear that your life before you went into politics is a private life and it should be possible to have that as a private life, and he has always been absolutely consistent about that."

And home secretary John Reid agreed.

"I think this is one of those 'so-what' moments," Mr Reid told the BBC One's Politics Show.

"Do we want to get to the level of ensuring that every politician... is a sort of plastic politician produced off some colourless and characterless conveyor belt?"


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