Gordon Brown today issued a Prime Ministerial apology for the public outrage over MP's expenses.
But his intervention came as the Conservative Party found itself in the firing line on this issue for the first time.
One disgruntled Labour adviser said: ‘The timing is all wrong. Today's bulletins should be all about Tory sleaze, not Gordon.'
A source close to Downing Street admitted: ‘Gordon has made himself a one-man news sponge, soaking all the attention away from the Tories.'
Bell Pottinger Public Affairs chairman Peter Bingle also criticised Brown's intervention, saying: 'Brown has now ensured the Tory expenses issue doesn't have legs. He has killed the story. It shows that his communications and that that of Number Ten do not compare to Tony Blair's. Alastair Campbell would never have done that.'
Expense claims made by Tory frontbenchers dominate the front page of today's Daily Telegraph, following three days of negative stories about Labour MPs' expenses. Senior Tories under pressure include shadow children's secretary Michael Gove and shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley.
But some Labour sources defended the PM's media strategy. LabourHome blogger and PRWeek columnist Alex Hilton said: ‘Somebody needs to be seen to be doing something about this. The benefits of the PM looking decisive outweigh the risks of deflecting attention away from the Tories.'
Brown made his comments in a speech to the Royal College of Nursing conference in Harrogate. He said: ‘I want to apologise on behalf of politicians, on behalf of all parties, for what has happened and for the events of these last few days.'
Brown was taking his cue from Tory leader David Cameron, who delivered a blanket apology of his own yesterday.