foiled armed bank robber, by Blair's Minister for Fitness
Britain's new Minister for Fitness has revealed her own 'superwoman' secret - she and her husband dramatically foiled an armed raid on a bank. Caroline Flint's brave actions in helping her husband tackle a gun-toting raider
after he threatened to shoot customers put the robber behind bars for ten years.
The drama happened when Ms Flint and her then partner Phil Cole were queuing at a busy NatWest bank in Richmond, Surrey.
Ms Flint, 44, MP for Don Valley and the Minister for Public Health, whose plan to produce a report on how children should exercise was blasted as 'fluffy' by anti-obesity campaigners last week, proved she was a woman of steel
when the gunman burst into the bank and ordered cashiers to hand over money from the tills.
When they refused, he grabbed a customer and held a gun to her head.
Ms Flint said: "We didn't realise what was going on until a man who had marched up to the front of the queue suddenly pulled out a gun. As we were at the back of the queue, we managed to slip out unnoticed during the commotion. We had our two young children with us and I was worried about their safety."
The family raced out of the door and dived into a nearby jewellers to raise the alarm. "As we were coming out of the jewellers, we saw the robber calmly walking out of the bank with a carrier bag. Of course no one knew he had just robbed the bank, so no one stopped him. "He started walking briskly down the street and Phil said he was going to follow him. I decided to stay with the children but I was worried about Phil going after him because he had a gun."
But as Mr Cole gave pursuit the gunman started running. "Phil rugby-tackled him and during the struggle the man took the gun out of his waistband and put his hand on the trigger," said Ms Flint. "Phil managed to jam his finger in the mechanism.
Luckily, two passers-by came to help and one was an off-duty woman police sergeant. The police arrived within minutes and arrested him. When we got home we both felt shell-shocked, thinking about what might have happened.
"I'm very proud of what Phil did. But we're not have-a-go heroes - we just reacted to a situation. I am not recommending people do the same thing, because it could be very dangerous.
"We later heard that our evidence was crucial because we could place him in the bank and we caught him with the money on him."
Mr Cole received a Sheriff of London bravery award for his role in foiling the 1994 raid, details of which first appeared on his wife's website as one sentence in the biography section. The gun was found to be a replica.