This is London
4th April 2008
Boris Johnson gave David Cameron a major political headache today after he spoke publicly of taking cocaine and cannabis as a teenager.
The Tory mayoral candidate answered a question about taking cocaine by saying "that was when I was 19", then discussed using cannabis.
It is the fullest discussion of drug use yet by the Henley MP and will open up Mr Cameron to fresh questions about his past.
The Tory leader, who was at Oxford with Mr Johnson, said in 2004 he had had the "normal student experience". He has also failed to deny claims in a biography that he had come close to being expelled for using cannabis at Eton.
Mr Johnson's drug past emerged today in a Marie Claire magazine interview by writer Janet Street-Porter.
When he was asked about his jokey references to cocaine use, he replied: "Well, that was when I was 19. It all goes to show that sometimes it's better not to say anything. I thoroughly disagree with drugs. I don't want my kids having drugs."
The MP was referring to an appearance in 2005 on TV quiz Have I Got News For You in which he said: "I think I was once given cocaine but I sneezed and so it did not go up my nose. In fact, I may have been doing icing sugar."
Asked by Street-Porter whether he had smoked "dope" before university, Mr Johnson replied: "That's true, but the stuff you and I may have smoked is not the same as what the kids are having now. I think skunk and this stuff is very, very dangerous".
Today Mr Johnson tried to bury the comments by saying he had not "used cocaine" adding: "As I have said many times, I was once at university offered a white substance, none of which went up my nose and I have no idea whether it was cocaine or not."
His rival Ken Livingstone said the issue was a private matter for Mr Johnson and added: "I have had a very enjoyable life in London without taking drugs. My advice is to give up the drugs and have a nice glass of Merlot."
The Mayor said Gordon Brown would be wrong to ignore the advice of independent advisers and reclassify cannabis as a class B drug. It was downgraded to class C in 2004.
Virtually the entire Cabinet last year admitted they had smoked cannabis, including Jacqui Smith, Hilary Benn and Baroness Ashton. Only James Purnell refused to comment.
Link to full interview with Boris Johnson-