Blair tried to 'calm Campbell down' during row with BBC

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Indy Politics

Tony Blair tried unsuccessfully to calm down Alastair Campbell, his former communications chief, during the row last year with the BBC over the Iraq war dossiers, according to a new book. The authors claim that Gavyn Davies, who was then the BBC's chairman, complained to the Prime Minister that Mr Campbell's aggressive attitude was making it hard to resolve the dispute.

Tony Blair tried unsuccessfully to calm down Alastair Campbell, his former communications chief, during the row last year with the BBC over the Iraq war dossiers, according to a new book. The authors claim that Gavyn Davies, who was then the BBC's chairman, complained to the Prime Minister that Mr Campbell's aggressive attitude was making it hard to resolve the dispute.

Mr Blair is said to have replied: "I realise that, but I am trying to calm him down." Mr Davies is quoted as saying: "Blair told me that he had been trying to calm [Mr] Campbell down and that he was troubled by the way he had behaved."

The book, Alastair Campbell, to be published next month by the Mail on Sunday's Poltical Editor, Simon Walters, and the commentator Peter Oborne, described Mr Campbell telephoning a journalist at home, at midnight, and complaining: "They're all after me, everyone's after me."

The dispute with the BBC was over a broadcast on the Today programme in May last year, in which its defence correspondent Andrew Gilligan alleged that Downing Street staff had "sexed up" intelligence reports to strengthen the case for war with Iraq.

Mr Gilligan based his report on a conversation with the scientist David Kelly, who committed suicide after his name had been made public. The Hutton inquiry into Dr Kelly's death resulted in the resignation of Mr Gilligan and Mr Davies, and of the BBC's director-general, Greg Dyke.

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