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
- 2 Moscow voted the world's unfriendliest city
- 3 The excuses your boss is most likely to believe when you call in sick
- 4 I'm pansexual – here are the five biggest misconceptions about my sexuality
- 5 More than 11,000 Icelanders offer to house Syrian refugees to help European crisis
The excuses your boss is most likely to believe when you call in sick
Bono's group has made more money from Facebook investment than from all his music
Three-year-old ultra-Orthodox Jewish children told 'the non-Jews' are 'evil' in worksheet produced by London school
Wikipedia rocked by 'rogue editors' blackmail scam targeting small businesses and celebrities
More than 11,000 Icelanders offer to house Syrian refugees to help European crisis
Climate change: 2015 will be the hottest year on record 'by a mile', experts say
Jeremy Corbyn calls Osama bin Laden's killing a 'tragedy' - but was it taken out of context?
If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don’t change Europe’s attitude to refugees, what will?
Senior British politicians tell David Cameron: When dead children are being washed up on beaches, it's time to act
If you're not already angry about the refugee crisis, here's a history lesson to remind you why you really should be
Theresa May says migrants should be banned from entering the UK unless they have jobs lined up
£40000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...
£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT support company has a n...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A works engineer is required in a progressive ...
£21000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client is seeking someone w...