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John Smeaton takes a bow at the Labour Party conference

25.09.07

The prime minister used his first Labour Party conference speech in the role to praise the baggage handler who helped restrain a terror suspect in the recent attack at Glasgow Airport. John Smeaton accepted the applause of the delegates after Gordon Brown highlighted his heroic efforts. He even sat next to Mr Brown's wife, Sarah, during the speech.

Mr. Smeaton shot to fame after helping the police tackle a man who drove a jeep laden with gas canisters into Glasgow's terminal building on June 30. He had already met Mr Brown at Downing Street, been praised by First Minister Alex Salmond and even appeared on stage at the Edinburgh Fringe and travelled to the annual Ground Zero memorial service in New York as a guest of honour.

Mention of Mr Smeaton came at the start of Mr Brown's first conference address as prime minister. He said the resilience of the British people had been 'powerful proof of the character of our country.'

He continued: 'When the terrorists tried to attack Scotland's biggest airport [actually, recent figures would suggest that it is now their second biggest], they were answered by the courage of the police and of the fire fighters and a baggage handler named John Smeaton. He came to the aid of a policeman under assault from one of the terrorists.'

'Later John told me it was instinctive, he was just doing what was right. That man, that hero, John Smeaton, is here with us today and on behalf of our country we thank you.' Mr Smeaton, who was sitting next to Mr Brown's wife Sarah during the speech, then stood up to accept the applause of those gathered. He was given a standing ovation by the conference delegates.

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