Cameron’s new spin doctor is BBC man Craig Oliver

Feb 3, 2011
Jack Bremer

Perhaps he wants to be more than a mere spectator as history unfolds, says BBC colleague Nick Robinson

The appointment of BBC news executive Craig Oliver as David Cameron's new spin doctor has come as a surprise to former colleagues who had no idea he had political leanings. Nick Robinson, the BBC's political editor, blogged: "Hard though this may be to believe, I had no inkling of his political views in all the years I worked with him."

Oliver, 41, was head of BBC global news. He has also edited the Six O'Clock News and News at Ten in his time, and ran last year's election coverage for the BBC.

He replaces Andy Coulson, who last month announced his resignation in the light of the phone-hacking scandal at the News of the World, which he used to edit. Coulson maintained his innocence, saying he never knew his reporters were illegally hacking into celebrities' voicemail to get stories, but said "when the spokesman needs a spokesman, it's time to move on".

Coulson is reported to have called Oliver about a week ago to see if he might be interested in replacing him, having apparently come across the BBC man during one of his regular phone calls complaining about news coverage of Tory affairs.

Oliver met Cameron and Chancellor George Osborne at the weekend and the deal was done.

Oliver, who is married to the BBC newsreader Joanna Gosling, with whom he has three children, is not a member of the Conservative party and has no intention of joining. According to his Twitter feed, he reads the Guardian and the New York Times and is a fan of Jon Stewart's satirical The Daily Show.

He has not yet explained why he would leave a comfortable job at the BBC to throw himself into the Downing Street melee, but Nick Robinson has a theory: "I think he has taken the job for the same reasons as his predecessor... He wants to be able to look back and say that he was more than a mere spectator as history unfolded."

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