'Number 10 spin doctors hacked BBC computers'
Downing Street has dismissed as "complete rubbish and utter drivel" claims last night that its staff had hacked into the BBC's computer system in an attempt to try to influence negative news items before they were broadcast.
The allegations, contained in a new book by John Simpson, the corporation's world affairs editor, will renew the row over New Labour spin.
Mr Simpson, in his book News From No Man's Land which is quoted in today's Sunday Telegraph, claimed a colleague had noticed that when he wrote a script for a forthcoming news bulletin "he would be rung up by Downing Street before it was broadcast and lobbied on a point or two". "This didn't happen just once or twice," he said.
BBC Radio 4's World At One programme was also telephoned by No 10 officials to complain about items it was planning to run, Mr Simpson's book alleges. The Sunday Telegraph also claims that the BBC, alerted to concerns that someone was getting into its system, investigated the matter and upgraded security.
But a spokesman for the BBC said last night: "We don't discuss issues of security. However, we are continually reviewing the security of our systems and we always aim to maintain complete impartiality in our political journalism."
Computer hacking was made illegal under the Computer Misuse Act of 1990. But the newspaper claims that the BBC was forced to investigate alleged breaches of the act in 1997 after Labour's election victory amid tension over the new Government's apparent attempts to "manage" news coverage and put pressure on journalists and editors to give it favourable coverage.
The Tory frontbencher David Davis said he would be contacting the chairman of the BBC Board of Governors to demand the publication of the BBC's internal inquiry. "If John Simpson's allegations are correct, then No 10 and Labour Party staff seem to have been complicit in a criminal act," he said. "At the very least, it would seem that there has been systematic action by No 10 and the Labour Party to break the BBC's charter which requires impartiality."
- 1 Game of Thrones season 6: Jon Snow theorists believe Ned Stark's son may have a twin sister
- 2 Artist takes LSD, draws herself over different stages of the 9-hour trip to show its effects
- 4 iPhone 6s camera: features to include 4K video camera and flash for selfies
- 5 A pint of water every day is the key to losing weight, scientists say
Miley Cyrus address Robin Thicke VMA controversy: ‘He wanted me as naked as possible, but I got the heat because I’m a woman’
Most expensive city to live in for expatriates: Luanda, Angola takes number one spot with Hong Kong and Zurich in top three
If Surrey were Syria: Social experiment shows what it's like to live under siege
Irish tourist filmed fighting with shopkeepers in Turkey says they 'messed with the wrong man'
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal get peerages
Dresden riots: Protesters in Germany attack refugee buses shouting 'foreigners out'
France train shooting: US soldiers speak of the moment they stopped gunman and 'beat him until he was unconscious'
Labour leadership: Jeremy Corbyn accused of 'deluding' young supporters with 'claptrap'
'Women only' train carriages: Jeremy Corbyn unveils radical move to tackle public harassment
Black holes are a passage to another universe, says Stephen Hawking
Iain Duncan Smith 'should resign over disability benefit death figures', says Jeremy Corbyn
£9464 - £12995 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The successful applicant will ne...
£26000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Product Development departm...
£19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This hull based charity providing except...
£9464 - £10396 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The successful applicant will ne...