Number Ten risks charge of burying bad news

Downing Street was this week accused of attempting to 'bury bad news' after it released to journalists a series of controversial documents containing potentially damaging stories.

Gordon Brown
Gordon Brown

National journalists were sent ten documents, including one detailing special advisers' salaries and another listing guests entertained at the public's expense at Chequers.

The documents were sent out on Tuesday - the last day of Parliament before summer recess. Lib Dem MP Norman Baker hit out at Downing Street for dumping all the documents in the public domain at once. 'This is a clear attempt to bury bad news,' he said.

Insiders dubbed Tuesday 'take out the trash' day - so called after the West Wing episode where the White House picks one day to dispose of all the stories it does not want to receive heavy coverage.

Luther Pendragon partner Mike Granatt, a former head of the Government Information and Communications Service, said although the tactic was not new, this was a particularly obvious attempt by Number 10. 'You shove everything out on one day and you hope the volume of it means there's only a certain amount of room in the papers and on TV and radio, so that squeezes it. And, secondly, you take the hit at once.'

But he added: 'I haven't seen too many concerted efforts of this sort, where it is just so obvious.'

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