Government looks at on-the-record briefings

The review of unattributable briefings by Government spokesmen announced this week could result in daily on-the-record briefings to journalists.

The review of unattributable briefings by Government spokesmen

announced this week could result in daily on-the-record briefings to

journalists.



But the idea has been dismissed as a ’gimmick’ by Sir Bernard Ingham,

former No 10 press secretary.



The Prime Minister’s press secretary Alastair Campbell initiated the

review after confusion over Britain’s entry into the European single

currency caused share prices to fall in the City. The confusion was put

down to several unattributable press briefings by Chancellor Gordon

Brown’s press secretary Charlie Whelan.



Conservative Treasury spokesman Peter Lilley this week blamed Whelan for

the confusion and called for his resignation.



The idea of daily on-the-record briefings by spokesmen at No 10 has been

floated as one way of making those who brief journalists more

accountable.



However, Downing Street would be unlikely to allow television crews to

film on-the-record briefings.



’It’s a gimmick, it is intended to show that they are responding to the

situation,’ said Ingham.



He added: ’It won’t make them more accountable at all. There will always

be unattributable briefings. The result of on-the-record is that nobody

says a great deal, and the unattributable briefings just go on

afterwards.’



A Downing Street spokesman said: ’We are going to look over the next few

days at whether or not there is anything we can do to make sure that the

public will distinguish between Government information and the

information which the media puts before the public as if it is

authorised.’



He said that the review will not only cover lobby briefings but also the

dissemination of information by all official spokesmen.



No deadline has been set for the completion of the review.



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