MP tells of Blair aide's ambition

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The Independent Online
Tony Blair's press secretary, Alastair Campbell, was willing to "sacrifice anyone" to save his career, the High Court heard yesterday.

Rupert Allason, the Tory MP, who is suing Mr Campbell and Mirror Group Newspapers for malicious falsehood, claimed the former political editor's "stock-in-trade" was "disinformation, half-truths and sophistry".

He told Mr Campbell: "You will say anything, sacrifice anyone and defend the indefensible to save your future career."

In a pointed reference to Mr Campbell's prominent role, the MP added: "You have an awful lot to lose and are prepared to do almost anything to ensure the truth does not get in the way of your ambition." Mr Allason, who is representing himself, accused Mr Campbell of using a former colleague on the Mirror as a "patsy" to take the blame for subsequent events.

The Torbay MP is suing over an article in the Mirror on 20 November 1992, when Mr Campbell was the political editor. Mr Allason says the article wrongly claimed 50 Labour MPs had signed a Commons Motion urging him to hand over substantial libel damages from Mirror Group to hard-pressed Maxwell pensioners. He says Mr Campbell was behind the Early Day Motion and the story.

Mr Campbell, giving evidence, dismissed the MP's claims, saying his only "trade" was to "promote a positive person in a positive way." His former colleague, David Brad- shaw, who has admitted drafting the EDM initially and writing the story, would not play the part of a patsy "even if asked," Mr Campbell said. Defending his honesty, he added: "My career would collapse if anyone in the media thought I told lies."

Mr Allason claimed that Mr Campbell's "animosity" towards him stemmed from the successful libel action over a Mirror article in 1991, to which Mr Campbell had made a small contribution. The case continues, and judgment is expected next week.