Meacher back on Earth Summit team as Campbell is overruled

Michael Meacher, the Environment minister, was restored yesterday to the British delegation for next month's Earth Summit in South Africa after a U-turn by Downing Street over the trip.

In a rare ministerial victory over Alastair Campbell, the Prime Minister's director of communications and strategy, Mr Meacher won a reprieve to attend the UN conference in Johannesburg.

Mr Campbell had originally suggested that the Environment minister be dropped from the delegation amid concerns about media claims of ministerial "junketing" at the expense of the world's poor. But careful leaking of the move resulted in a backlash from green organisations and John Prescott, the Deputy Prime Minister, was allowed to choose which ministers could attend.

It was even claimed that Mr Campbell had asked Mr Prescott not to attend the summit but was overruled when the Deputy Prime Minister complained to Tony Blair. Instead of reducing press criticism, Mr Campbell's efforts backfired by raising fresh fears about his seniority over elected ministers.

Mr Meacher said he was "very pleased" to be included on the list but acknowledged he had been "concerned" about reports that he had been left out.

A Downing Street spokeswoman said Mr Meacher was among five ministers who would be travelling to the summit along with 65 officials, administration and security staff. The other ministers attending the summit are Mr Blair, Mr Prescott, Clare Short, the Secretary of State for International Development (DfID), and Margaret Beckett, the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). The only ministerial casualty was Baroness Amos, a Foreign Office minister, who had also been expected to join the delegation.

Announcing the final delegation line-up, a Downing Street spokeswoman said: "We obviously want to have the best team to go there."

The 70-strong British delegation is about a third of the size of the delegations being sent by comparable countries and considerably smaller than the 100-strong contingent said to have been originally planned. It will include some 45 policy and press officials from five Whitehall departments: Defra, DfID, the Foreign Office, the Treasury and the Department for Trade and Industry. There will also be 15 administrative support staff and five security staff.

Mr Meacher told BBC Radio 4's World at One that he was never officially told that he was not on the ministerial list. But when he was asked about his reaction to reports that he had been excluded, he hinted that he had complained to Downing Street. "Obviously I was concerned about that and obviously there have been discussions about that but I am not going to go into it in detail," Mr Meacher said.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
Under the skin: Sarah Kane in May 1998
theatreThe story behind a new season of Sarah Kane plays
Arts and Entertainment
Preening: Johnny Depp in 'Mortdecai'
filmMortdecai becomes actor's fifth consecutive box office bomb
Sport
Bradford City's reward for their memorable win over Chelsea is a trip to face either Sunderland or Fulham (Getty)
football
News
Lars Andersen took up archery in his mid thirties
video
Voices
Focus E15 Mothers led a protest to highlight the lack of affordable housing in London
voicesLondon’s housing crisis amounts to an abuse of human rights, says Grace Dent
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Operations & Logistics Manager

£38000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's best performing...

Recruitment Genius: GeoDatabase Specialist - Hazard Modelling

£35000 - £43000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our award-winning client is one...

Recruitment Genius: Compressed Air Pipework Installation Engineer

£15000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of Atlas ...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Coordinator - Pallet Network

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Opportunity to join established...

Day In a Page

Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea