Brown 'sorry' over email slurs

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Indy Politics

Prime Minister Gordon Brown apologised today over controversial emails sent by one of his closest aides.

Damian McBride resigned at the weekend after it emerged he had sent emails making unfounded personal allegations about senior Tories.

Today Mr Brown said he took responsibility and stated: "I am sorry about what happened."

The Prime Minister spoke about the "smeargate" affair during a visit to Glasgow this morning.

He revealed he had been "horrified" and "very angry" when he first learned about the emails.

Mr Brown said: "I take full responsibility for what happened. That's why the person who was responsible went immediately."

He said: "I have said all along that, when I saw this first, I was horrified, I was shocked and I was very angry indeed.

"I think the most important thing we do is reassure people everything is being done to clean up politics in our country.

"I wrote to the people who were affected by it and expressed very deep regret for what happened.

"The person who was responsible went immediately and lost his job and I have ensured that there are new rules so this can't happen again.

"We have done everything in our power to deal with this."

Mr Brown was in Glasgow today for a special meeting of the Cabinet which focused on the economy.

He said: "We have now got to get on with the job of creating opportunities for people and apprenticeships, creating new work and, of course, getting a budget for jobs."

Mr Brown was criticised earlier in the week for failing to say sorry in a letter he wrote to those targeted by the disgraced aide.

It was sent after Mr McBride, a long-term adviser to Mr Brown, was forced to resign after admitting that he sent "juvenile and inappropriate" emails from his Downing Street account to former spin doctor Derek Draper.

In it the Prime Minister expressed "great regret" that politics had been affected in such a way.

Tory leader David Cameron welcomed the hand-written message from the Prime Minister, saying it showed he had "finally recognised the gravity of what's been happening in Downing Street".

But behind the scenes the Opposition was furious that he had not said sorry for the personal claims made about the party leader and three colleagues.

Nadine Dorries, one of the Tories targeted in the McBride email, said she was "pleased" with the apology but said it should have been made sooner and to herself personally.

She said: "I think the reason why he did it was that he knew he would be asked about this by reporters.

"I am pleased he said sorry but why didn't he say it to me first? There still needs to be a full inquiry into who knew what and if there were any other emails sent."

She claimed what Mr Brown was doing was "just another example" of the Government's spin operation.