Campbell condemns honours list leaks

THE LEAKING of a knighthood for the Scottish National Party supporter Sean Connery in the New Year Honours List was denounced last night as "reprehensible" by the Prime Minister's official spokesman.

Downing Street also hit out at the premature disclosure of two more awards for Sir John Birt and Richard Branson that opened the Prime Minister to renewed accusations of offering rewards to "Tony's cronies".

The Prime Minister's office said it was "very unfortunate and reprehensible" that there had been premature disclosure of a peerage for Sir John, the outgoing BBC director general, and a knighthood for Mr Branson, owner of the Virgin group.

The list was intended to be a closely guarded secret until it was published in the Official Gazette on New Year's Eve. Award-winners were sworn to keep the honour confidential until then.

The official spokesman made clear that he was not accusing the Scottish nationalists of leaking Mr Connery's award.

The Government has investigated 60 departmental leaks since the last general election, Mr Blair revealed in a parliamentary written reply.

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