Safeguards will ensure the new Knowledge Network rebuttal database
being installed across Whitehall is only used for government purposes,
one of its architects said this week.
Mike Granatt, head of the Government Information and Communication
Service and a member of the Network’s ten-strong project committee,
said: ’Safeguards will ensure the system is not put to party uses. We
will look at protocols for users which should rule out bad faith.’
The project is based on a health department rebuttal system, and is the
brainchild of Joe McCrae, ex-special adviser to mayoral hopeful Frank
Dobson, and ex-BBC political research head Bill Bush. McCrae is a
consultant to the committee, ensuring that each government department
can feed in and extract ’lines to take’ on press enquiries.
The system will also provide the three best quotes and the five best
facts to support it.
Despite Granatt’s assurance, the role of special advisers, some of whom
have civil servant status and will enjoy high levels of access to the
system when it goes live later in 2000, has attracted concern. A
Conservative Party spokesman said: ’Blair is undermining the neutrality
Daisy Sampson, spokesperson for Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy,
said the system should be renamed the Brainwashing Network. ’Were it
used to encourage greater freedom of information, we would support it;
we fear it will not,’ she added.
Media Strategy associate director Romola Christopherson, who was media
chief at the department of health where the system’s prototype was
installed in the early-1990s, insisted there was ’nothing disreputable’
about the network, but added that there was always a need for