Secret papers reveal Tony Blair's F1 tobacco deal

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Tony Blair personally ordered an exemption for motor racing from a tobacco sponsorship ban after Labour received a secret £1m donation from Bernie Ecclestone, the Formula One boss.

New documents released under the Freedom of Information Act show he demanded a change of policy within hours of a meeting with Ecclestone on October 16, 1997, and his aides went on to blur the truth.

The affair was the first sleaze scandal of the new Labour era. At its height, Blair feared the episode would end his premiership and went on television to defend his reputation, saying he was a “pretty straight kind of guy”.

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