Labour's spin doctors on their backs: Mandelson ridiculed and Campbell under attack

ALASTAIR Campbell, the Prime Minister's official spokesman, last night accused the media of staging a "self-indulgent orgy" after William Hague, the Tory leader, had suggested he was a liar, writes Anthony Bevins.

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

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
newsAnother week, another dress controversy on the internet
Life and Style
Scientist have developed a test which predicts whether you'll live for another ten years
health
Life and Style
Marie had fake ID, in the name of Johanna Koch, after she evaded capture by the Nazis in wartime Berlin
historyOne woman's secret life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
News
news... and what your reaction to the creatures above says about you
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Jihadi John
newsMonikers like 'Jihadi John' make the grim sound glamorous
Arts and Entertainment
As depicted in Disney's Robin Hood, King John was cowardly, cruel, avaricious and incompetent
film
News
Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft and co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
businessUber, Snapchat and Facebook founders among those on the 2015 Forbes Billionaire List
News
Homer’s equation, in an episode in 1998, comes close to the truth, as revealed 14 years later
science
News
news
News
people
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Telesales & Customer Service Executive - Call Centre Jobs

£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...

Ashdown Group: Finance Manager - Covent Garden, central London - £45k - £55k

£45000 - £55000 per annum + 30 days holiday: Ashdown Group: Finance Manager - ...

Ashdown Group: Systems Administrator - Lancashire - £30,000

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: 3rd Line Support Engineer / Network ...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Web Developer

£26000 - £33000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Web Developer is required to ...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn