Tories complain over Paxman interview

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Indy Politics

A formal complaint was made last night by Michael Howard's aides against his television adversary, Jeremy Paxman.

The Newsnight presenter famously asked the Conservative leader 14 times in a 1995 interview to answer whether or not he overruled Derek Lewis, then director of the Prison Service, ordering him to sack the governor of Parkhurst prison.

In an interview on Monday night, Mr Paxman asked him the question again. "As it happens, I didn't. Are you satisfied now?" replied Mr Howard.

Tory aides accused Mr Paxman of a "stitch up" in the way that they edited the interview and reported a day out with Mr Howard in Cornwall.

Last night, Guy Black, the director of communications for the Tories, made a formal complaint to the programme editor. He said the tone of the report was unreasonable and had been edited to exclude answers on Iraq, but it included the question about Derek Lewis.

Peter Barron, the editor of Newsnight, said: "The film was a fair and accurate reflection of what [Paxman] found, and was certainly not staged."