Tories distance themselves from McBride tactics

The Conservatives have insĀ­isted they have no dirt on LabĀ­our MPs, despite claims to the contrary by Tory sources.

Tabloid expertise: Coulson
Tabloid expertise: Coulson

One senior Tory operator said comms chief Andy Coulson, a former editor of the News of the World, held a secret dossier of information about Labour MPs.

The Tory source said: ‘It is undoubtedly true that Coulson has some type of file of information about certain Labour people that he has obt­ained from his tabloid links.

It played a role in the recent story about Jacqui Smith and it has played a role in others. But they have all been legitimate stories and that is why it is completely different from what McBride was doing.’

The source added: ‘Coulson’s good at what he does but he is not stupid about it. He knows that you can be sued if you screw up, so there is always some proper background.’

A second source with close links to Tory HQ backed up the idea of a secret file. He said: ‘It is standard stuff for a party to collect. But we will make acc­usations over the way the Government has handled things or if people have lied. McBride actually made up scurrilous crap  and that is where this stinks. Everyone does muck-raking, everyone does spin and everyone does dirt-digging. But not everyone makes things up for the hell of it.’

However, a Tory spokesman insisted: ‘No such file exists.’ He added: ‘The Conservative Party utterly condemns the actions of Damian McBride. We would never adopt the tactics he used.’

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