Andy Burnham falls short of full apology to campaigner

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Indy Politics

The Culture Secretary, Andy Burnham, has moved to defuse his damaging "smears" row with the civil liberties campaigner Shami Chakrabarti, but stopped short of saying sorry.

In a letter to the Liberty director he insisted that he had not set out to cause offence when he claimed she shared "late-night, hand-wringing, heart-melting phone calls" with David Davis, the former shadow home secretary who resigned to launch a public debate on civil liberties.

On Thursday, Ms Chakrabarti threatened to sue Mr Burnham, demanded a written apology and accused him of debasing his office with the comments, made in an interview with the Labour think-tank magazine Progress.

Mr Burnham sent a letter to Ms Chakrabarti yesterday, saying: "I have been genuinely taken aback at an interpretation placed on my remarks by others that I did not intend."

Ms Chakrabarti replied: "I am grateful for Mr Burnham's letter, which seems to show genuine regret for the distress his remarks caused me and my family. These remarks coincided with a relentless campaign of Westminster gossip that could only distract from serious issues and discourage young women from entering public life."