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Sunday, 28 January, 2001, 15:17 GMT
What Campbell said
Campbell and Mandelson
Campbell (left) says he was misrepresented
The statement by the Prime Minister's official spokesman, Alastair Campbell, denying "knifing" Peter Mandelson during a press briefing.

The press reports at my briefing to the Sunday papers provide further evidence of the current media frenzy.

This was a regular briefing of the Sunday lobby, at their request, to go over the events of the last week.

I do not deny saying the words attributed to me but that has not prevented their misrepresentation.

Over more than an hour of questioning, I set out the facts of the past week as best I could, acknowledging that there were parts of this episode that were difficult fully to explain and understand.

'Enormous contribution'

I spoke warmly and genuinely of Peter, both in relation to his role in the development of New Labour and more recently his enormous contribution to the Northern Ireland peace process.

Peter Mandelson leaves his London home with his protection officer
Mandelson has pledged to clear his name
I will give just two examples of specific misrepresentations. In relation to last Sunday's telephone call between me and Peter, I said that he was 'curiously detached', by which I meant, as I explained, that he did not see The Observer story as a great problem, that he was not focused on the detail and that he was more interested in other things, especially the continuing negotiations on Northern Ireland.

To present that as an attack on his state of mind, let alone a knifing, is absurd.

There are also reports that I compared his state of mind to that of Ron Davies at the time of his resignation as Welsh secretary.

'Ludicrous'

The only references to Ron Davies during the briefing came from the journalists and the only assertion being put to me that I agreed with was that there were some elements of the past week that I could not fully explain, as was the case then.

Again, to say that means I was comparing their states of mind is ludicrous.

The claim that Peter and I are somehow at war is in any event undermined by the fact that when the papers carrying these headlines hit the streets last night, Peter was at my home attending a family birthday party organised some time ago.

Whatever the difficulties of the last week he was, is and will continue to be a friend of mine.

As for the events surrounding last week's resignation, I briefed on them fully at the time and have nothing to add.

In the meantime, however wild the media frenzy gets, we will continue to focus on things that really matter to real people leading real lives in the real world: the economy, jobs, tackling crime, the investment and modernisation of our public services.

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