Campbell denies politicising GICS

Alastair Campbell, the Prime Minister’s chief press secretary, defended himself against charges of politicising the Government information service last Tuesday when giving evidence to the Parliamentary Committee on Public Administration.

Alastair Campbell, the Prime Minister’s chief press secretary,

defended himself against charges of politicising the Government

information service last Tuesday when giving evidence to the

Parliamentary Committee on Public Administration.



Campbell recognised that, as a political appointee with a contractual

right to operate in a political context, he was at risk of damaging the

trademark impartiality of the information service.



But he said: ’I have never seen a substantive piece of evidence for

politicisation.



I do not have any power independent of the Prime Minister. I do

understand the grey areas and my instinct is to err on the side of

caution.’



He drew a distinction between his attacking role when in opposition and

his rebuttal role since the general election: ’I will be reactive, not

proactive in terms of party politics. What I do not say is: ’here are

ten reasons why you shouldn’t vote for William Hague’.’



He added that he did not brief journalists on issues relating to the

Parliamentary Labour Party or the Party’s National Executive

Committee.



Campbell was speaking at an investigation on reforms to the information

service and press lobby briefing system. His appearance follows evidence

given last week by Cabinet Secretary Richard Wilson, who broadly

defended Campbell’s role and a fortnight previously by Margaret

Thatcher’s former press secretary, Sir Bernard Ingham, who accused

Campbell of destroying the impartiality of the service.



- Giving evidence at the hearing alongside Campbell, Mike Granatt, head

of the Government Information and Communication Service, recognised that

morale within the GICS is low.



’People feel bruised, it would be inhuman not to feel that way. There is

a perception of some jobs not being available to them. It gives the

message that their future may lie elsewhere, which I don’t think is

true.’



He said measures were being taken to boost morale, including training

and monitoring that jobs are tendered competitively. ’Morale is probably

recovering,’ he said.



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