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White House party crashers 'sought blagging advice from British director'

The couple accused of gatecrashing a White House state dinner had recently asked the British director of a television series about "blagging" for advice on tricking their way into a black tie event, it has been claimed.

 
Tareq Salahi, Vice President Joe Biden and Michaele Salahi
image made from Michaele Salahi's Facebook page shows a photo of Tareq Salahi, left, Vice President Joe Biden and Michaele Salahi, right, at the White House state dinner in Washington on Tuesday Nov. 24, 2009 Photo: AP

Tareq and Michaele Salahi prompted a Secret Service investigation and a major row about White House security after they managed to get into a state dinner for the Indian prime minister despite having no invitations.

The couple, who are aspiring television reality show stars, have insisted they were not gatecrashers and that their names were on the guest list when they arrived.

The White House has denied this, saying the Secret Service let them in by mistake. An exchange of emails between the Salahis and a Pentagon official has since made clear that they had been pushing her hard for four days for invitations.

However, the Salahis' assertion that they would never stoop to gatecrash a White House dinner appears to be contradicted by an email exchange with the director of a TV show about blagging.

Tim Burke, who directed MTV Blaggers! – in which a group of friends gatecrash high profile events and parties - said he was contacted by Mr Salahi a week before the White House incident.

In an email from a "Mr Salahi" and sent by the same YouTube account holder who posted a film of the Salahis' wedding ceremony, the sender said he had watched internet clips from Blaggers! "with great interest".

He went on: "I am wondering what technique you would suggest we use for a formal engagement, black tie event, state event?...What has been successful in the past and what should we look out for."

Mr Burke said he replied, making two suggestions – either ringing up the organisers in advance to get some names on the guest list or what he called the "pick a name any name" technique.

The latter ruse, which he said "has worked every time for us…I met Tony Blair doing this", involves two people pretending they don't know each other as they approach an event's security point.

While one distracts a guard's attention, the second – while pretending to be on the phone - can take a peak at the guest list and get some names which they can then use.

It is not clear how the Salahis eventually got into the White House and calls to their publicist were not returned on Wednesday.

Congress is due to discuss the incident on Thursday and Joe Biden, the US vice president who was pictured with his arm around Mrs Salahi, said on Wednesday that the couple had behaved as if they knew everyone in the room, including him.

The Salahis have also been accused of gatecrashing a Congressional Black Caucus dinner in September at which Mr Obama was speaking.

The Washington Post on Wednesday disputed their claim to be successful polo entrepreneurs. The newspaper reported that a charity polo event and a foundation run by the couple were mired in controversy, unpaid bills and financial problems.

They also allegedly marketed the polo championship on the basis that members of the Royal Family would be coming, but none of them attended.

 
 
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