No 10 in new dirty tricks row over role of US 'garbage man'

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Indy Politics

Labour has hired an American spin doctor known as the "garbage man" for publishing pictures doctored to show George Bush taking cocaine. The party faces controversy over "dirty tricks" after it said Zack Exley, 35, is working full-time on its campaign.

Labour has hired an American spin doctor known as the "garbage man" for publishing pictures doctored to show George Bush taking cocaine. The party faces controversy over "dirty tricks" after it said Zack Exley, 35, is working full-time on its campaign.

He is notorious in Washington as an expert in the use of the internet to spread black propaganda. President Bush was moved to call him a "garbage man". Other stunts included fake photographs of Mr Bush smoking a joint and spoof articles by him.

Mr Bush's team tried toclose down one website run by Mr Exley during the 2000 presidential campaign. Mr Bush's supporters cried foul again last year after he was brought into the Kerry campaign fresh from running another Bush-baiting website, MoveOn. He has also worked with Stan Greenberg, a business partner of Philip Gould, Tony Blair's personal pollster.

A Labour Party spokeswoman said: "Zack Exley is working for the party as a campaign consultant specifically using his experience of working on www.moveon.org."

Jitters over the faltering campaign led Robin Cook to call for Gordon Brown to be given a greater role. "I have a grave anxiety about the negative tone of the campaigning we've done," the former foreign secretary said. "Two months of mud wrestling" with Tories would only help the Liberal Democrats.

While an exclusive poll in today's Independent on Sunday gives Labour a seven-point lead, the survey finds that would almost double were the Chancellor in control.

Matthew Taylor, the Liberal Democrat chairman, said: "The irony of Mr Blair hiring someone George Bush has condemned as a garbage man will be lost on nobody."

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