John Mitchell London SE13

Sir: Twentieth-century presidents are not the first to need spin- doctors to try to guard them against rumours of dalliance or their own imprecision when denying it.

Sir George Throckmorton warned Henry VIII against marrying Anne Boleyn "for it is thought ye have meddled both with the mother and with the sister". Henry retorted sleepishly, "Never with the mother," leaving Thomas Cromwell to add, "Nor never with the sister neither and therefore put this out of your mind."

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