NOEL UNDER FIRE FROM DRUG TSAR

Oasis songwriter Gallagher's comments on drug-taking branded as 'disgraceful' by Government drug chief Keith Hellawell...

Noel Gallagher has incurred the wrath of Prime Minister TONY BLAIR’S ‘drugs tsar’ KEITH HELLAWELL for praising drug use.

In January, Hellawell had praised Noel, saying he was a good role model for young people after the Oasis star revealed he’d stopped taking cocaine.

But Noel’s assertions in this week’s issue of NME that drugs are “fucking top” have forced the Blair-appointed anti-drugs co-ordinator to backtrack.

In an answer in his Fan-ish Inquisition feature, to be posted in full here on nme.com later this week, Noel said: “I think they’re all good, actually. Every single one. They all serve a purpose. Apart from crack and heroin which are pretty bad because they kill you – or in the case of crack you kill other people, ha! I’ve had good times on them all. As long as you use them in the right way and don’t abuse them and don’t let them fuck you up they’re fucking top.”

In a statement released on Friday, Hellawell said: “I think it’s disgraceful, utterings like these are given the grace of the printed word”.

“He clearly has no concerns for others. He is engaged in self-gratification and I can only hope that the damage that drugs cause to so many thousands of young people is not visited upon any of his family or his children.”

Hellawell and Noel’s comments come on the eve of a new report from the Cleveland Constabulary which supports the legalisation and regulation of “some or all drugs”.

The report, due out soon, will suggest drugs like cannabis should be de-criminalised and ecstasy be reduced from a Class A drug to Class B or C.

But while Noel and the Cleveland police’s report are both urging tolerance for drug users, PM Blair and Hellawell are said to be preparing stricter measures to deal with soaring drug offences in the UK.

Blair favours a US-style ‘zero tolerance’ approach to the drug problem with sterner sentences for users and dealers.

We asked you, readers of nme.com what you thought about the Cleveland report last week – and you agreed.

Of the thousands of you that have voted so far, 84.3% said that cannabis SHOULD be decriminalised, with just 15.7% wanting the laws to stay the same.

However, the declassification of Ecstasy was a tighter call – 59.43% of you said that it should be reduced to a Class B or C, whereas 40.57% thought it should remain a Class A narcotic.

We’ll post more of your comments later this week.