Special Branch called in to investigate Blair memo leak

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Special Branch officers are expected to be called in to investigate the highly embarrassing leak of a memo written by Tony Blair in which he admitted he and his Government looked "out of touch" with the public on key issues.

Special Branch officers are expected to be called in to investigate the highly embarrassing leak of a memo written by Tony Blair in which he admitted he and his Government looked "out of touch" with the public on key issues.

Sir Richard Wilson, the Cabinet Secretary, has been asked by Mr Blair to conduct an internal inquiry into how his memo was disclosed to the press yesterday. Sir Richard is likely to ask the police for help

Mr Blair's swift decision to call in Sir Richard is a sign of the severity with which he views the leak. Although Mr Blair's spokesman played down the contents of the memo, the Tories and some Labour MPs said it revealed how the Prime Minister demanded headline-grabbing policies to tackle crime after William Hague had seized the initiative on law and order in April.

In the memo, Mr Blair conceded Labour was seen as "soft" on crime and asylum-seekers and "weak" on the family. "All these things add up to a sense that the Government - and this applies even to me - are somehow out of touch with gut British instincts."

His memo bore an uncanny resemblance to the editorial comment that appeared in the Tory-supporting Daily Mail on 29 April, the day he penned his report. The paper criticised Labour on law and order, asylum and Europe, all issues mentioned by Mr Blair. It is thought the Prime Minister wrote his memo on a computer and it may have been e-mailed to his closest advisers. Ministers believe the Conservative Party had a hand in the Blair memo becoming public, although there is no direct evidence. Ministers say the timing was designed to cause maximum trouble for the Government as it prepared a fightback after its recent problems by unveiling its three-year spending blueprint today.

William Hague, the Tory leader, said: "Now we know where all the spin and the gimmicks come from in this Government. It comes from the very top. It comes from the Prime Minister himself."

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