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UK Politics

Black Rod 'killer' memo says Blair's accusers were '100 per cent accurate'

Downing Street was last night under renewed pressure after the paper at the centre of the spin row disclosed details of the "killer memo" and claimed it does proves Tony Blair tried to "muscle in" on the Queen Mother's funeral.

The Mail on Sunday said Black Rod, Sir Michael Willcocks, wrote to the Press Complaints Commission to assert that Number 10 applied "sustained and constant pressure" to secure the Prime Minister an enhanced role at the lying-in-state ceremony.

It says two civil servants, Clare Sumner and Simon Virley, visited Black Rod to urge him to endorse a statement denying the disputed reports. He is said to have refused and declared the stories "100 per cent accurate".

The claims will increase pressure on Alastair Campbell, Mr Blair's closest ally, to resign. Today, writing in the Independent on Sunday, a former New Labour spin doctor warns Mr Campbell he must resign to destroy the culture of spin at the heart of government. David Clark, a former aide to Robin Cook, says Mr Campbell should make "the ultimate sacrifice".

He says the Government's communications and strategy director may already have made "the brave and necessary decision to go". "He has been an outstanding servant of his party but he must surely calculate that his continued presence would only benefit Labour's enemies."

A 29-page dossier, released by Downing Street on Friday, confirmed that Ms Sumner, contacted Black Rod to discuss Mr Blair's role, but denied she insisted on a higher-profile role for Mr Blair. Foreign Secretary Jack Straw accused the Conservative press of "character assassination".

Mr Campbell has told Tony Blair he will not resign, as long as Mr Blair wants him to stay. Labour MPs last night gave their backing to Mr Campbell and called for Black Rod to go if there is any evidence that he is implicated in the press campaign against Downing Street.