Lib Dems build media team after 'Cleggover' affair

The Liberal Democrats are planning to strengthen the party's media operation as they come to terms with the damage done to their leader's image in the past week.

Nick Clegg has earned the unwanted nickname 'Cleggover' following a recent interview with GQ magazine in which he admitted to sleeping with 'no more than 30' women.

The party is understood to have already been looking to add to the party's media operation before the interview took place. The GQ interview has made the search for a safe pair of hands more urgent, according to Lib Dem sources.

It is known that Clegg had two female PR aides in the room with him at the time of the GQ interview - but neither managed to prevent him from making the gaffe.

'You can certainly say they should have expected and prevented this,' said one senior PRO with strong links to the party. 'If there is a lesson, it ought to be for the media handlers to be more sure of themselves and to intervene.'

Sources said the two women present were Clegg's press secretary Hannah Gardiner and speechwriter Polly Mackenzie, but this was not confirmed by the Lib Dems.

The party's comms director Jonathan Oates said: 'Of course we can always develop our PR, but we have a very strong media team in place at the moment. The issue with GQ is that Nick speaks clearly and openly. Sometimes that can have downsides but we are absolutely clear that the strategy of him getting out there and speaking in the way that he speaks, rather than politician speak, is the right one and we will continue to develop it.'

But the GQ interview has led some prominent political commentators to warn that Clegg's reputation is now hanging in the balance.

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