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Despite being kept up all hours by the arrival of his New Labour baby Leo on Friday, UK prime minister Tony Blair is not escaping the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.

A UK firm, anxious to portray its expertise on the avatar front, formally launched a site called PhonyBlair this morning, using a three dimensional image not dissimilar to Tony's phizzog, which can be manipulated at will to make Phony's face rubbery and flubbery, and even make him look like a borg.

The technology, which requires the installation of a small plug in, is not without serious purpose however. According to the authors of Phony Blair, they have already sold similar systems to police forces - the idea being to prepare photofits of crooks which have a more realistic look.

The authors are also currently talking to games manufacturers about using the technology as part of interactive Net pursuits.

So Tony, if you've got a chance to browse the Web in-between washing those soiled nappies, see what IT has done to someone who looks uncannily like you, even though the authors say the avatar is not intended to represent any real person... ®

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