POLITICS & PARLIAMENT: EDUCATION - Cook Faces Backlash after Eton Attack on Tory Leader

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LABOUR WAS accused of hypocrisy yesterday after Robin Cook criticised Iain Duncan Smith for sending his son to Eton despite Tony Blair's aggressive attempts to maintain his children's privacy.

Senior Tories reacted with fury after Mr Cook, the Leader of the House of Commons standing in for Mr Blair at Prime Minister's Question Time, lambasted the Tory leader's choice of schools.

Downing Street was forced to defend Mr Cook's jibe, made in response to questions about the Secretary of State for Education, Estelle Morris, who had said she would not touch some comprehensives "with a bargepole".

Marion Roe, Conservative MP for Broxbourne, condemned the comment as an "outrageous slur". But Mr Cook said: "What she said is that she had taught for 18 years at a comprehensive and would not have taught at any other type of school.

"I will not take any criticism of her from a Conservative Party that is led by a leader who will not touch any state school with a bargepole when it comes to sending his children to school and who sends his children to Eton."

He was immediately attacked by senior Tories, who contrasted the comments with Tony Blair's highly publicised attempts to protect his children from press attention. The Blairs have made several complaints to the Press Complaints Commission over articles about the children, most recent about The Daily Telegraph for revealing that their eldest son, Euan, had applied to an Oxford college.

John Redwood, a former Conservative cabinet minister, said: "There is one rule for them and another rule for everybody else. Robin Cook was way offside trying to drag people's children into debate. …