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Tuesday, 26 February, 2002, 16:40 GMT
Timeline: Labour spin row
Jo Moore was finally compelled to resign
BBC News Online charts a timeline of the key events in the political row.

11 Sept 2001: Spin doctor Jo Moore sends her infamous e-mail, suggesting to colleagues it was a good day to "bury" bad news.

8 Oct 2001: The memo is leaked, immediately prompting calls for Ms Moore to resign.

16 Oct 2001: She issues a public apology and gets backing from Stephen Byers and Prime Minister Tony Blair.

17 Oct 2001: Mr Blair tells the Commons the Moore e-mail was "horrible, stupid and wrong". She keeps her job and the row dissipates.

Princess Margaret: Funeral date in row
14 Feb 2002: Ms Moore is back in the spotlight after claims she proposed bad news be released on the day of Princess Margaret's funeral.

0900 GMT: She describes reports of the e-mail between her and transport communications boss Martin Sixsmith as "completely fictititious... complete and utter lies".

1130 GMT: Prime Minister's official spokesman, Godric Smith, also describes that e-mail as a fabrication; this assertion is repeated by Robin Cook, Leader of the Commons.

15 Feb 2002: Mr Sixsmith asserts that transport department permanent secretary Sir Richard Mottram tells him Ms Moore has offered her resignation but that Mr Byers will accept it only if Mr Sixsmith also offers to leave his post.

Mr Sixsmith says he will consider the request after attending a hospital appointment and says Sir Richard assures him he would not "progress the matter further" by having him "resigned".

Martin Sixsmith: Heard of resignations on radio
1600 GMT: Mr Sixsmith says he leaves his hospital appointment to hear on the radio that Mr Byers has announced the two resignations (Ms Moore and Mr Sixsmith). Mr Sixsmith says he requests a meeting with Mr Byers but is unable to see him.

1730 GMT: Mr Sixsmith says Sir Richard tells him there was a "complete cock-up" and that someone had leaked the news about there being two resignations.

24 Feb 2002: Mr Sixsmith denies he has resigned. The government again insists that both he and Ms Moore had quit.

25 Feb 2002: Sir Richard releases a rare Whitehall statement detailing his version of events surrounding Mr Sixsmith's departure. Sir Richard says Mr Sixsmith had agreed to resign although the details of his departure had not been finalised when his departure was announced. Meanwhile both opposition party leaders call for Mr Byers to resign.

26 Feb 2002: In his first broadcast interview about the affair, Mr Sixsmith told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that Mr Byers was behind his controversial departure. He said the transport secretary had only agreed to accept Ms Moore's resignation on condition he went too.

Meanwhile Stephen Byers said during a Commons statement that there had been a "concerted attempt by a very small number of civil servants in the press office to undermine" his department.

He insisted Mr Sixsmith had agreed to leave his job.

7 May 2002: The Transport Department issues a statement confirming that - contrary to statements made by Mr Byers in the Commons and on television - Mr Sixsmith had not resigned on February 15.

The prime minister's official spokesman backs Mr Byers, saying his statement to the Commons had been based on an "incorrect understanding" of the situation.

8 May 2002:The Conservatives call for Mr Byers to stand down for misleading ministers.

Tory spokesman Tim Collins said the revelation of Mr Byers 'mistaken' statement to MPs was "the most clear example in history of a man being caught out lying in human history."

9 May 2002: Mr Byers is to make a Commons statement following claims that he lied to MPs over the resignation of Mr Sixsmith.

But the transport department says Mr Byers does not intend to apologise or even clarify his position as he "has not done anything wrong".

28 May 2002 The row rumbles on and eventually Mr Byers bows to the inevitable and quits the government.


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Background

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TALKING POINT
See also:

16 Feb 02 | Politics
24 Feb 02 | Politics
15 Feb 02 | Politics
24 Feb 02 | Politics
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