The BBC’s political editor has clarified an article which appeared to suggest Ed Miliband's aides had compared Labour’s battle against tax avoidance to the murder of the schoolgirl Milly Dowler.
Nick Robinson had written on his blog that Mr Miliband’s aides saw the public row as a “Milly Dowler moment” in reference the Labour leader’s combative and popular stance during the phone-hacking scandal.
The report was widely interpreted as attributing the phrase to a Labour aide and was seized on by Labour’s political opponents.
Conservative sources described the imagined comments as “disgusting” and one Conservative MP even called on the Labour leader’s head of press to resign over the issue.
Mr Robinson however later tweeted to clarify that the term ‘Milly Dowler moment’ was not meant to be interpreted as a quote, but his own phrase.
Calm down Twitter. I did not quote anyone re Ed M & Milly Dowler. Said his aides saw this as moment like that ie to stand up to powerful— Nick Robinson (@bbcnickrobinson) February 12, 2015
“Calm down Twitter. I did not quote anyone re Ed M & Milly Dowler. Said his aides saw this as moment like that ie to stand up to powerful,” he wrote.
Other newspapers mistakenly followed up the story, citing the BBC as their source and pinning the blame on Labour's head of press Tom Baldwin.
Mr Robinson said parts of the media that did not like Ed Miliband were stoking the story up.
"Media foes of Ed M generating row re Milly Dowler. I reported aides saw this as moment to stand up to powerful like when that story broke," he tweeted.
Before the inaccuracy of the follow-up reports came to light, Mark Lewis, the lawyer who represents the Dowler family, even spoke out to condemn the Labour leader.
A spokesperson for Mr Miliband confirmed that “no one connected to Ed Miliband” used the phrase ‘Milly Dowler moment’.
Philip Davies, the Conservative MP for Shipley, told the Daily Telegraph newspaper the imagined comments were “utterly unforgivable and go far beyond the bounds of normal human decency” before calling for Labour’s head of press Tom Baldwin to resign.
He added that Labour would “stoop to any level to try and make cheap political advantage”.Reuse content