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