Blair leak inquiry points to pollster as 'unwitting source'

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Indy Politics

The government inquiry into the leak of a memo from Tony Blair has identified the correspondence of the Prime Minister's pollster, Philip Gould, as the most likely source.

The government inquiry into the leak of a memo from Tony Blair has identified the correspondence of the Prime Minister's pollster, Philip Gould, as the most likely source.

The inquiry, headed by Sir Richard Wilson, the Cabinet Secretary, has "exonerated completely" all Downing Street staff and politicians connected with the memo.

The investigation concluded Mr Gould was in no way personally responsible and had no intention of leaking material, but the document was probably obtained from his office or his home. Such a finding is guaranteed to throw the spotlight again on claims that Mr Gould's home or his dustbin was raided. Only Downing Street and Mr Gould received copies of Mr Blair's own memo.

Surveillance has ruled out e-mails or computer hacking, pointing to paper-based documentation. Sir Richard's report will strongly suggest the information was obtained illegally.

Until officials are satisfied that Mr Gould's correspondence is secure, Downing Street is preparing measures to ensure much greater care is taken in sending him messages.

Speculation has centred on Benjamin Pell, or "Benji the Binman", an obsessive 36-year-old who drives around London emptying people's bins into black plastic bags. He preys on the famous and has sold his wares to several newspapers, including those in the News International stable. All seven of a series of leaked Labour memos surfaced in The Sunday Times, The Times or The Sun.

But Mr Pell denies any involvement in the leaks.

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