Elsen defiant over latest spin row

The PR consultant at the centre of the latest Labour spin row this week struck a defiant note over his role in a Sunday Times piece which claims to reveal the truth about the Millbank media operation.

Richard Elsen, the former head of Labour's attack unit who was quoted in the piece, told PRWeek: 'It wasn't just me - there were lots of us at it.

'Any PR person who works in politics knows it is an aggressive atmosphere and the media onslaught against Labour in 1992 showed the Tories could do it too' he said.

'Ninety per cent of the information used by the attack unit was publicly available. The other ten per cent came from de-briefing Tory switchers or grassroots activists,' he added.

Elsen, now a director at consultancy Cicero, this week failed to attend the party conference for the first time in over a decade but insisted he had planned three months ago to steer clear of Blackpool this year.

In response to suggestions that he had upset senior party PROs Elsen said: 'I expect I have burnt my bridges with Labour, but I was not planning a return to politics.'

The Sunday Times Insight team last week reported on the Attack Unit under the headline 'Revealed: Labours dirty tricks machine'.

The paper alleged that senior party figures were aware of the attack unit work - essentially aimed at undermining the Tory government of Prime Minister John Major.

The Attack Unit is believed to have been behind such damaging exposures as the Premier Club which it was alleged was a group of donors who had given more than £100,000 to the Conservatives.

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