Prescott in row on job figures

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The Independent Online
A slanging match erupted yesterday between John Prescott and a senior Department of Employment civil servant over the accuracy of jobless figures, writes Barrie Clement.

In a breach of normal Whitehall procedure Peter Stibbard, the department's chief statistician, yesterday released a letter he sent to Mr Prescott in which he accuses the Opposition employment spokesman of a 'statistical travesty'. He demands that the politician retracts allegations that officials 'admit' official data underestimates unemployment by up to 500,000.

Publication of the letter was followed by a statement from Mr Prescott which reiterates the 'fiddle' claim and argues that the letter confirms his contentions.