Damian McBride 'ashamed' but says he didn't break law
Gordon Brown's former spin doctor insists he's 'happy' to tell police about efforts to discredit ministers
GORDON BROWN'S former spin doctor is "sorry and ashamed" about his efforts to destroy the careers of the ex-PM's opponents. But Damian McBride insists he did not break any laws when he set out to leak damaging stories to the press and is willing to talk to police if they investigate the matter.
Speaking to Jeremy Paxman on BBC Two's Newsnight, McBride admitted that many Labour MPs considered him a "traitor" for launching his controversial memoir Power Trip in Brighton today during Labour's annual conference. But he insisted that the party must "learn lessons" from his mistakes.
McBride's book reveals how he set out to discredit or destroy Labour ministers seen as a threat to Brown's ambitions to replace Tony Blair as PM. McBride kept a "black book" of stories about former Home Secretary Lord Reid, who subsequently resigned from the cabinet to avoid damaging newspaper allegations. He also "orchestrated" the sacking of another Home Secretary, Charles Clarke.
Power Trip reveals that McBride accessed Brown's email account without his former boss's permission.
The Conservative MP Alun Cairns has called for the police to investigate whether McBride may have broken the Official Secrets Act and the Computer Misuse Act. Another Tory MP, Henry Smith, wants McBride to be stripped of his civil service pension if it is found that he breached the civil service code and the special advisers' code of conduct.
McBride insisted on Newsnight that he had not broken any laws because he "would not leak classified comments and I would take pains to avoid doing that". He said he would be "happy" to talk to police to provide further details of his actions.
McBride said he would be ready to give up his pension if the civil service felt he should.
The Daily Mail says McBride has "overshadowed" the Labour conference by choosing to launch Power Trip in Brighton where the party is holding its annual conference. Even worse, it is being released just as Labour leader Ed Miliband makes a keynote speech today that he hopes will rally the party faithful and put him on the front foot after weeks of negative press.
On Newsnight McBride admitted: "There's no good time to publish a book like this." He said he had received more lucrative offers than the £100,000 he was paid by the Daily Mail to publish extracts, but said the money would pay off debts he had run up since leaving his job with "nothing". ·