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Wednesday, 10 October, 2001, 08:32 GMT 09:32 UK
Aide apologises for 'attacks memo'
Jo Moore, left, with Stephen Byers
Jo Moore, left, with boss Stephen Byers
Conservative Party chairman David Davis has urged a high-level investigation after it emerged that a senior government advisor suggested controversial stories could be buried in the news fallout from the US terror attacks.

Jo Moore apologised on Tuesday for sending a memo on the day of the US terror attacks saying it would be a good time to "bury" some controversial stories.

It was wrong to send the e-mail and I accept responsibility for doing so

Jo Moore
Now Mr Davis has called for Cabinet Secretary Sir Richard Wilson, the UK's top civil servant, to look into a series of government announcements made since the events of 11 September.

Although Downing Street moved to quash suggestions that the timing of announcements such as the move to put Railtrack into receivership had no relation to the US atrocities.

Mr Davis said Ms Moore's remark within hours of the attack on the World Trade Center that it was "a very good day to get out anything we want to bury" was "tasteless beyond belief".

Calling for the investigation he added: "This is something that assaults the integrity of the British civil service."

Ms Moore's message was timed at 1455 BST on 11 September, within an hour of the second plane flying into the World Trade Center, but before either tower collapsed.

"I would like to sincerely apologise for the offence I have caused. It was wrong to send the e-mail and I accept responsibility for doing so," she said.

Stephen Byers
Mr Byers is said to value Ms Moore's services
A Downing Street spokesman said that Ms Moore had committed an "error of judgement" and that it should be kept in "perspective".

"[Transport Secretary] Stephen Byers was first aware of this e-mail on Monday and had discussions with Jo Moore.

"His view was that this e-mail should not have been sent - it was an error of judgement."

Prime Minister Tony Blair shared Mr Byers' view, the spokesman said, adding that Ms Moore would not be sacked because the transport secretary valued her services.

Shortly after the e-mail was circulated a press release was put out over an increase in payments to councillors - normally a controversial local issue.

Controversial announcements since 11 September
Proposed new councillors' expenses
Gavyn Davies made BBC chairman
Review of student finance
Sellafield plant go-ahead
Picketts Lock athletics stadium plans dropped
Railtrack put into administration
The DTLR said an announcement on the issue had been planned for some time.

Other controversial news released in the wake of the attacks includes Gavyn Davies' appointment as BBC chairman, the abandoning of the Picketts Lock athletic stadium and the government go-ahead for Sellafield's new mixed oxide (Mox) plant.

Two days ago - the same day that military strikes began against targets in Afghanistan - Mr Byers' department announced it was moving to put Railtrack into receivership.

Downing Street said the Railtrack story had emerged because of media leaks while other announcements had to be made because "you can't put all government business on hold".

A spokesman added that an announcement on higher than expected asylum figures, originally due shortly after 11 September, had been delayed to avoid to avoid the accusation of hiding news.


The e-mail was condemned by at least one relative of a victim from the World Trade Center attacks.

The Rev David Smith, whose cousin Richard Cudina died in the atrocities, said the e-mail was the kind of thing that could only have come from the most hard-hearted of people.

"If the idea is that bad news should be buried, this is basically burying bad news of a fairly insignificant kind under the bodies of 6,500 people.

"That is very, very bad for our nation."

Liberal Democrat transport spokesman Don Foster branded the news as "unbelievable".

UK Home Secretary, David Blunkett
"It was a stupid thing to do"
The BBC's Mark Mardell
"The email was sent before the World Trade Center collapsed"
Rev. David Smith, relative of victim
"This is modern politics at its worst"
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