The Mirror - 31 January 1997
Oasis bad boy lashes out at "hypocrites"
I've Noel Regrets Over Drugs StormBy Macer Hall
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LOUDMOUTH Noel Gallagher said last night he was PLEASED for sparking a massive row about drug-taking.
MPs who called for his sacking were branded hypocrites by the Oasis star, who had claimed some of them were addicted to heroin or cocaine.
The 29-year-old singer refused to back down on his outrageous claims that taking drugs was just "like having a cup of tea".
But in a statement aimed at clearing up his off-the-cuff conunents, Gallagher admitted "drugs can be damaging" and urged youngsters not to take them.
The statement said: "If by saying a few seemingly outrageous things I've helped to instigate an open a honest debate about drug abuse in this country, then I'm pleased.
'I've never condoned the use of drugs, I just slam as hypocrites those politicians who simply condemn drug abuse as a criminal activity and think they're doing something positive. The criminalisation of drug users simply isn't working.
"Of course, it's important to realise that taking drugs can be damaging to lifestyle and dangerous to health. I urge all youngsters to educate themselves about the harmful side of drug taking.
"I've said it before and I'll say it again: The best policy is don't start in the first place."
The row blew up when Noel spoke on BBC Radio Five Live shortly after picking up a pop award.
He was defending fellow pop star Brian Harvey, who was sacked from East 17 for saying Ecstasy was safe.
And it added to the controversy surrounding the Manchester band following Noel's younger brother Liam getting off with a caution for having cocaine.
But unlike shamed E17 star Harvey, Gallagher dug in his heels despite sparking a storm. MPs and anti-drug campaigners, including a Government minister and the family of Ecstasy-death victim Leah Betts, lined up to blast his comments.
A Home Office minister branded the star a "Spoilt Brat" and branded his outburst as "deplorable".
Leah's stepmum, Janet Betts said "It's disgraceful. The danger is kids look up to a man like Noel Gallagher. " An Oasis spokesman said the star had never meant to encourage drug-taking.
"He's not saying what Brian Harvey said or condoning drug use- He's just defending his right to free speech by pointing out the hypocrisy of a lot of people that were criticising Harvey.
"When he said taking drugs was just like a cup of tea, he meant that's how widespread it is, not that it's no worse."
The spokesman said Gallagher had no evidence to show politicans abused hard drugs. But he added: "We all know that it goes on, in all walks of life.
The star kept a low profile yesterday as the storm sparked by his comments raged on.
The doors and the curtains of his white stuccoed terrace house at St John's Wood, north-west London, remained closed. Two fans waiting outside defended the star.
Layla Fletcher, 17, a student from Northolt, Middlesex, said: "It's up to him if he wants to take drugs.
" But just because he says that he does it, it doesn't mean that we are all going to go out and start takilng them. "
Fellow fan Wendy Neil, 17, added: "He can do what he wants. I'm not saying that it's right to take drugs but you can't stop him from doing it.
"And it won't stop me buying his records."
Gallagher has come under fire for bragging about taking drugs in the past.
At the band's sell-out gig in Loch Lomond last summer he shocked anti-drug campaigners by flippantly telling more than 40,000 fans "Some geezer with a Rastafarian hair-do stole all our drugs. Look after your stash.
More than two years ago he caused controversy when he claimed taking drugs made his life feel like a bowl of cherries".
And Oasis members added further fuel to the row when they boasted they sprinkled cocaine on their cornflakes.
Speaking to The Face magazine Gallagher told how many of the band's hit songs were littered with drug-inspired lyrics, in particular (What's The Story) Morning Glory which said: "All your dreams are made, When you're chained to the mirror and a razor blade."
Gallagher explained: "I put drug references in because I take them and I write about what I know."
He boasted about experimenting with drugs as a teenager and said: 'Me and my mates have been doing drugs since we were 14. Personally, I can't help it."
The Star - 31 January 1997
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