Smith fears loss of Mirror's loyalty

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JOHN SMITH, the Labour Party leader, expressed fears about the future allegiance of the Daily Mirror last night after its political editor, Alastair Campbell, quit the newspaper.

Mr Campbell's departure followed the appointment of David Seymour to supervise the paper's political coverage. Mr Seymour formerly worked on the Today newspaper under the editorship of David Montgomery, now the Mirror's chief executive. Saying that he held Mr Campbell 'in the highest regard', Mr Smith stated: 'My concern about the political stance of Mirror Group Newspapers and the need for political pluralism . . . has been reinforced by his regrettable departure.'

Last October, when Mr Montgomery became chief executive of MGN - still owned by the administrators of Robert Maxwell's estate - he promised that its papers would keep their Labour allegiance. The group's three titles, the Daily and Sunday Mirror and the People, are the only national tabloids that support Labour.

Since October many former staff members have left, including the editors of the Daily Mirror and the People, Richard Stott and Bill Hagerty. Mr Stott is now editor of Rupert Murdoch's tabloid Today and there is speculation that he might recruit Mr Campbell in an effort to give the paper's political coverage a different slant.