Sir Alex heads spin-doctor honours

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The Independent Online
THE GOVERNMENT'S love affair with the tabloids appeared to dominate the Queen's Birthday Honours List today with knighthoods for the Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson and newsreader Trevor McDonald.

Mr Ferguson and Mr McDonald were among a string of popular names highlighted by Downing Street from the worlds of sport, showbusiness and the media. A knighthood for Mr Ferguson was the common cry of tabloid newspapers after United won the treble of FA Cup, Premiership and European Cup this year.

Suspicions of a deliberate Government attempt to spin the awards rose when Mr Ferguson's honour, and that of an MBE for footballer Tony Adams were leaked to The Sun yesterday. Alastair Campbell, the Prime Minister's spokesman, stressed that he regretted the breach of the embargo and said that the stories were simply "educated guesses". An award nomination for Mr Ferguson, who is a friend of Tony Blair and Mr Campbell, was already "in the system".

The actress Julie Walters and John Barry, composer of the Bond film theme tunes, get OBEs. Footballer Robbie Earle gets an MBE. Architect Sir Norman Foster, becomes a life peer, and Mrs Norma Major becomes a Dame for her for charitable services. Lord Deedes, the former newspaper editor, gets a KBE.

Downing Street said that the New Year's list would be expanded to celebrate the millennium. The list will feature "people that are icons that will help shape our future in the next century".