Blair's press chief denies 'inciting' MPs
Friday 26 April 1996
Mr Campbell said that at the time alleged, while he was political editor of the Daily Mirror, he had actually been in a briefing with the Prime Minister's then press secretary, Gus O'Donnell.
He was giving evidence in a case brought by Torbay Tory MP Rupert Allason, who is suing Mr Campbell, former Mirror journalist Andy McSmith, and Mirror Group Newspapers for malicious falsehood over an article in November 1992.
Mr Allason, who is representing himself, says the story falsely claimed that 50 MPs signed an Early Day Motion suggesting he hand over part of substantial libel damages he had previously won from Mirror Group to Maxwell pensioners facing financial ruin.
Mr Campbell, who said the article was published at a time of flux at the Mirror Group, denied an earlier claim by Labour MP George Galloway that he saw the journalist trying to persuade a new MP to sign the motion.
"It is untrue and physically impossible, I did not go to that part of the Commons," said Mr Campbell. "The Prime Minister's press secretary wanted to have a private word with me about what was going on at the Mirror. He was extremely supportive and said the Prime Minister was taking an interest."
Mr Campbell dismissed suggestions he had initiated the EDM or was involved in writing the story, saying the first he knew of it was when his deputy, David Bradshaw, told him as the story was being filed. "As far as I recall, I did not see the copy filed by David Bradshaw. He did not tell me the background."
He had spoken to the editor of the Mirror about it, but this was "routine" because it was a story involving the newspaper. Mr Campbell denied any malice or vendetta against Mr Allason, whom he said he tried to ignore as much as possible. Far from attacking the MP, he himself had been misled over the authorship of the EDM and pressed for a correction.
Earlier, Mr Bradshaw had admitted coming up with the idea for the EDM, a draft of which he passed to two Labour MPs, who amended it and circulated it amongst colleagues.
He also admitted that at the time he had not told the whole truth about the authorship, and had made an error of judgement which had "dragged Alistair Campbell's name through the mud."
Mr Allason claims the article was malicious and that he lost a $100,000 book contract as a result.
The case continues.
- 1 BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate
- 2 18th century sex toy found in 'toilet of sword fighting school' in Poland
- 3 US? China? India? The 10 biggest economies in 2030 will be...
- 4 'I wish my teacher knew...': Young students share their 'heartbreaking' worries in notes
- 5 Rebecca Francis accuses Ricky Gervais of using 'influence' to target female hunters after receiving barrage of death threats
General Election 2015: David Cameron catching up in polls – but he badly needs a clear lead
South Africa xenophobic attacks: Shops looted and violence on streets of Johannesburg as foreigners are forced to hide in police stations
18th century sex toy found in 'toilet of sword fighting school' in Poland
'I wish my teacher knew...': Young students share their 'heartbreaking' worries in notes
Rebecca Francis accuses Ricky Gervais of using 'influence' to target female hunters after receiving barrage of death threats
The only black face in the Ukip manifesto is on the page about overseas aid
If I’m being racially abused I don’t need a stranger with a saviour complex to rescue me
Ukip is the only main political party to not address LGBT rights in its manifesto
BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate
Religion isn't growing, it is becoming vigorous in its demise, says philosopher AC Grayling
Food banks: One million Britons will soon be using them, according to Trussell Trust
£30000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application ...
£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...
£27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Domestic Service Only Engineers are requ...
£23600 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Employability Service withi...