Last updated at 13:09 16 October 2005
George Osborne: Caught in new drugs scandal
The drugs storm engulfing the Tory party intensified last night following the publication of a photograph showing Shadow Chancellor George Osborne posing with a self-confessed prostitute and cocaine user.
Last night the 34-year-old MP, who is leadership hopeful David Cameron's campaign manager, admitted knowing the vice girl but flatly denied that a white powder visible in front of them was cocaine. Mr Osborne insisted he was the victim of a smear campaign aimed at discrediting Mr Cameron's leadership bid.
The young front-runner has been at the centre of increasing speculation after he refused to say whether he has ever taken drugs. However the picture of a 22-year-old Mr Osborne could damage his friend's hopes of succeeding Michael Howard.
An exclusive poll for The Mail on Sunday today reveals that Tory voters would still want Mr Cameron to lead the party even if it did emerge that he had taken hard drugs.
In fact, the BPIX survey shows he is the only one of the four leadership candidates who could cut Labour's lead and give the Tories a chance of winning the next General Election.
The poll found a two-to-one majority of Tory supporters think that taking Class A drugs should not take any candidates out of the race; and a majority of Conservatives believe Mr Cameron does not need to say if he has ever taken drugs.
The picture, published in two Sunday newspapers, shows Mr Osborne smoking a cigarette with his arm draped around prostitute Natalie Rowe, who apparently specialises in sado-masochism.
It is understood Rowe, now 42, claims cocaine is just visible in the picture, taken at a party, although the image is unclear. She also says the photograph shows rolled papers - the remnants of a night of cocainesnorting. However, Mr Osborne was last night unequivocal in his denials that he had taken drugs with Rowe.
He said: "The allegations are completely untrue and dredging up a photo from when I was 22 years old is pretty desperate stuff. This is merely part of a smear campaign to divert attention from the issues that matter in this leadership contest and I am confident people will not be distracted by this rubbish."
However, Mr Osborne told how one of his close friends had a relationship with the prostitute, fathered her child and went on to become a drug addict. "I saw his life fall apart," he said.
In a statement last night Mr Osborne said: "Twelve years ago a friend of mine went out with a woman called Natalie and they had a child together. I met them together occasionally in the autumn of 1993, and it soon became clear that my friend had started to use drugs.
"He became more and more addicted and I saw his life fall apart. With his other friends I tried to persuade him to seek treatment. Eventually he did and after a long time in rehabilitation he has now recovered and put his life back together. I am very proud of the battle he has fought and won.
"That is, and always has been, the sum total of my connection with this woman. It was a stark lesson to me at a young age of the destruction which drugs bring to so many people's lives.
"Ever since then I have believed that tough, realistic policies to tackle the evil of drugs should be one of the top priorities of any government. I now want to respect the privacy of my friend who is now happily recovered and working full-time abroad, and the privacy of his young child. For the sake of that child I think we should leave them alone."
It was reported that Mr Osborne 'could not remember' whether Rowe - or the male friend who accompanied him to her Chelsea flat - took drugs in his presence. But this was dismissed by a friend as "pure mischief"
Friends of Mr Cameron said Rowe had been trying to sell her story for some time and has only emerged now because of the drugs row within the party. Last week the other three leadership candidates, David Davis, Ken Clarke and Liam Fox all declared they had never taken hard drugs. However, despite coming under intense pressure, Old Etonian Mr Cameron has resolutely declined to state his position.
'Notting Hill set
Mr Osborne is a key member of the so-called "Notting Hill Set", the well-educated and wealthy young Tories who surround Mr Cameron.
At Oxford, Mr Osborne, who is the heir to a baronetcy, was a member of the hell-raising, champagne-quaffing Bullingdon Club. The photo was taken shortly after he graduated, while he was working as a freelance journalist. Soon afterwards he got a job as a researcher at Conservative Central Office.
An anonymous source quoted in the News of the World said: "Natalie ran an agency for 15 years called Black Beauties supplying black hookers to rich people. There was a minimum fee of £350. I think she was also called Mistress Pain.
"She met a really close friend of George's at a restaurant. The man had just left Bristol University - in fact, he was just a few years ahead of David Cameron's wife, Samantha, who also studied there.
"The photo she has of George was taken just after she realised she was expecting in 1994. Because she was pregnant she insists she wasn't taking drugs herself that night."
Another friend of the MP is reported to have said: "Natalie is an unreliable woman to say the least.
"George has had contact with her twice since. Seven or eight years ago she visited the flat he was sharing with the godfather to the child. It was a brief visit. Then a few months ago, she managed to call him direct and she told him that newspapers were pursuing him.
"He listened to what she had to say but didn't return her calls. This is a far from ideal situation but George believes strongly that he has done nothing wrong."
A Conservative Party spokesman said last night: "George Osborne did not take drugs with her."
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-365547/Cameron-campaign-chief-cocaine-pictures.html#ixzz1RgqamPAL
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
Cameron campaign chief in 'cocaine' pictures
Posted by SteelMagnolia at 1:59 AM