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The BBC's Andrew Marr
"All of Westminster is agog waiting to see this"
 real 28k

Thursday, 5 July, 2001, 17:33 GMT 18:33 UK
Key Hague aide Platell resigns
Amanda Platell with William Hague in 1999
Amanda Platell with William Hague in 1999
Amanda Platell, a key press aide to outgoing Tory leader William Hague, has resigned after making a secret video diary of the Conservative Party's disastrous general election campaign.

Ms Platell, a former national newspaper editor, gave a verbal resignation more than two weeks ago - shortly after polling day - and followed it up in writing letter last week, Conservative Central Office confirmed.

Her departure had been expected - she was very much Mr Hague's personal appointment as head of news and media at Conservative Central Office.

But the news that Channel 4 is to next week broadcast "Unspun - Amanda Platell's Secret Diary" next week, recorded each evening during the campaign, will anger the many Tory insiders who had long been critical of her.

Loyalty questioned

Shadow cabinet members were among the private critics of Mr Hague's reliance on his "kitchen cabinet", of which Ms Platell was a key member.

They had also questioned her loyalty to the party. Although a friend of Mr Hague's wife, Ffion, not long before joining the Conservative staff she had served as editor of the Labour-supporting Sunday Mirror newspaper.

Her video diary is expected to reveal the strains and pressures at the heart of the Tory campaign. It is certain to be watched with interest, and perhaps alarm, by some of the contenders now in the race to replace Mr Hague.

As Mr Hague's chief spin doctor, Ms Platell tried to improve his image by making available pictures of him emerging from the Red Sea after windsurfing, and of the Hagues standing on top of Ben Nevis.

14 pints rebound

She also organised interviews with magazines such as GQ, to show the "real Hague". That venture was judged to have backfired when his declaration in it that he had as a young man drunk 14 pints of beer a day quickly became a point of ridicule.

Another stunt that rebounded on Mr Hague was the publicising of his supposed gift to his wife of a pendant in the form of a pound sign. It turned out not only that Ms Platell had ordered the pendant; she had also neglected to pay for it, resulting in the supplier having to chase up payment.

William Hague
Mr Hague bragged of downing 14 pints
Shortly after her appointment in 1999 she caused a stir both in Fleet Street and Westminster with the publication of a novel Scandal.

As the title suggested, it was a racy bodice-ripper with many of the central characters bases loosely on real life figures in journalism and politics.

Many had predicted her departure on the day of Mr Hague's resignation as Tory leader the morning after the general election.

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See also:

05 Jul 01 | UK Politics
Five fight for Tory crown
08 Jun 01 | Vote2001
Hague to step down
13 Aug 99 | UK Politics
Cover blown on 'Project Hague'
08 Aug 00 | UK Politics
Hague: I drank 14 pints a day
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