Labour's spin doctors on their backs: Mandelson ridiculed and Campbell under attack
Wednesday 01 April 1998
The row centred on a recent telephone call to Tony Blair made by Romano Prodi, the Italian Prime Minister, during which Mr Blair asked Mr Prodi what he thought about a bid from Rupert Murdoch for a controlling interest in three Italian television networks.
Mr Campbell spent last week saying the call had been made by Mr Prodi, and that as Mr Blair had only asked in passing about the attitude towards the Murdoch bid, he had hardly "intervened" on his behalf.
But the BBC carried a series of reports on the affair yesterday, with Francis Maude, a Tory frontbench spokesman, calling Mr Campbell a liar, and BBC political reporters complaining about Mr Campbell's "frightening" and "intimidating" conduct - a charge later dismissed as "jocular" by Nick Clarke, presenter of The World at One.
Three charges were laid by the Tories against No 10 - that Mr Campbell's briefing on the Prodi-Blair call had been "at best misleading and at worst deliberately false"; that Mr Campbell had attempted to gag Harriet Harman, and Frank Field, the social security ministers; and that Labour had tried to cover up a plan to set up a "cash-for-access" deal with Mr Blair's office.
At his evening briefing with political reporters, Mr Campbell drew a distinction between the legitimate journalistic interest in Mr Blair's relationship with Mr Murdoch and the question of whether he had lied. He said that every journalist in the room knew he had not lied.
But he accused the media of being obsessed with itself to the exclusion of issues of concern to real people. "There are certain subjects the media are neuralgic about," he said. "One of them is Murdoch; one of them is spin doctors. Put the two together, and you know you can have a self- indulgent orgy lasting days, which is what you are doing."
Boasting for Britain, page 10
Andrew Marr, page 19
- 1 Is Gideon Levy the most hated man in Israel or just the most heroic?
- 2 Students offered grants if they tweet pro-Israeli propaganda
- 3 Satellite full of sexually experimental geckos adrift in space, Russia loses control of mission
MH17 crash: Investigators discover more human remains and 'huge section of plane'
Susan Sarandon on David Bowie romance: 'He's worth idolising'
Students offered grants if they tweet pro-Israeli propaganda
A day in the life of Vladimir Putin: The dictator in his labyrinth
Exclusive: Cameron’s Big Society in tatters as charity watchdog launches investigation into claims of Government funding misuse
The 'scroungers’ fight back: The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Arizona execution lasts two hours as killer Joseph Wood left 'snorting and gasping' for air
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Ukrainian military jet was flying close to passenger plane before it was shot down, says Russian officer
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Massive rise in sale of British arms to Russia
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: victims’ bodies bundled in black bags and loaded onto trains
John Barrowman praised for Commonwealth Games opening ceremony gay kiss
£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...
Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...
£65000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: The client is a...
£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established software house ba...