Tories appoint `Today' man as new party spindoctor

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Francis Halewood, deputy editor of Radio 4's Today programme until January, has been appointed the Conservative Party's chief spindoctor.

Mr Halewood, who was operations manager at Conservative Central Office during the election campaign, takes over as director of communications from Charles Lewington, who resigned following the party's defeat. The Tories believe they were out-manoeuvred during the campaign by Labour's press team, led by Peter Mandelson and Alastair Campbell.

After 18 years at the BBC, working on current affairs radio programmes, the deputy editor resigned last Christmas and in the New Year became operations manager at Conservative Central Office, working as deputy to Mr Lewington.