The-Latest - EXCLUSIVE
To bring some light relief to embattled Prime Minister Gordon Brown, an intrepid student bluffed her way past armed police to get into the garden of his official London home. She was legitimately working with a showbiz star, Joanna Lumley, and her victorious campaign for brave Gurkha former British soldiers to be allowed to settle in the UK.
Laura Hawkins, from Bournemouth, just wasn't in possession of a personal invite. It proved how easily a smooth talking, confident woman like her could get past security to reach Britain's most powerful politician.
Though a trainee, she was treated like a proper radio journalist doing a documentary on the Gurkhas and their showbiz champion Joanna Lumley. So, as the carnival of specially invited guests, including the famous veteran soldiers from Nepal and their supporters, rolled into Downing Street on Thursday she stuck closely to them and smoozed past officers with deadly looking weapons. Once on the doorstep of No.10, where she had seen Gordon Brown pictured on the television news so many times, Hawkins was greeted by a smiling policeman who waved her through and into the cavernous lobby. Her heart was in her throat because she feared being rumbled.
There were signs saying no mobile phones or cameras - they had to be left in guarded pigeon holes. But Hawkins was generously allowed into the garden with her camera and Marantz recorder. It was a sunny day. Gordon Brown's flowers were in bloom - unlike his current sleaze battered political fortunes - and in front of her stood the avuncular prime minister, with home secretary Jacqui Smith, dressed in a black two piece suit, by his side. The immigration minister Phil Woolas was there too.
Hawkins had to act out the part so she busied herself taking photographs and interviewing everyone from the prime minister, the home secretary, Woolas and Lumley, only once being stopped and questioned about her right to do so.
It was just hours from when she had woken up, thrown on her clothes and ran down to Westminster on her own, not knowing any VIP who could smuggle her into the prime minister's residence for her first big scoop. Yet, by 4.30pm she found herself on the lawn of No. 10 Downing Street and having tea and biscuits with Gordon Brown and Joanna Lumley.
It was like a dream. But, Hawkins' photographs proved it was for real. This is how a small radio documentary on the Gurkha's turned into one of the biggest days of her life.
* Laura Hawkins has just finished her masters in broadcast journalism at the University of Westminster.
Photography: Laura Hawkins