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Last Updated: Sunday, 31 August, 2003, 19:23 GMT 20:23 UK
Campbell's successor to lose share options
David Hill
David Hill will replace Alastair Campbell in about four weeks
The man who will replace Alastair Campbell as Tony Blair's media chief will give up thousands of share options before he starts work, Downing Street has said.

The news came as Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith said the departure of Mr Campbell would not mean the end of government spin.

Mr Campbell's successor David Hill holds 95,000 share options in lobbying and PR firm Chime Communications, where he is currently employed, it emerged on Sunday.

It had been suggested this could provoke allegations of a conflict of interest, as the firm's clients include GM foods company Monsanto.

But on Sunday Downing Street said Mr Hill would lose all his share options the moment he resigned, and would abide by all the rules governing special advisers.

It's not the resignation of the servant that matters but the departure of his master - Tony Blair
Opposition leader Iain Duncan Smith
Mr Duncan Smith said the issue of spin would not go away until prime minister Tony Blair, resigned.

Writing in the Independent on Sunday, he said Mr Campbell had been responsible for many of the "excesses" of the government, but was usually following the will of Mr Blair.

"He wasn't at Blair's right hand by accident, but by design. Campbell was nicknamed the 'real deputy prime minister' because everyone saw the power and influence given to him by the prime minister.

'Culture of deceit'

"The prime minister cannot distance himself from the failure of his government, or the abuse of its power. The whole Downing Street machine reports to him.

"For New Labour is not just a cast of miserable characters, it's a culture - a culture of deceit. The machinery of spin and deceit powers Blair's government.

"It's not the resignation of the servant that matters but the departure of his master," he wrote.

"The real Downing Street director of communications must go - Tony Blair himself."

The Liberal Democrat's treasury spokesman, Matthew Taylor, said the reports about Mr Hill underlined the need to put a civil servant in charge of government communications rather than what he called a "political appointee".

More than 30 years experience at the centre of Labour politic
Worked with many Labour leaders including Roy Hattersley, Neil Kinnock
Headed Labour press office 1991-1998
Latterly worked in private sector

"Inevitably, only a civil servant will be seen as genuinely independent and reliable," he said.

But criticisms of the government's media strategy were dismissed by Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, who told BBC One's Breakfast With Frost it had to respond to the demands of the "breathless 24-hour news cycle".

He rubbished claims that Mr Campbell was "the real deputy prime minister", adding: "This is a kind of regular piece of flim flam of politics and it is not true."

Mr Campbell said on Friday he would leave within the next four to five weeks.

Following Mr Campbell's resignation the government said it would be shaking up its media operations, with a "new communications structure" to be announced next week.

The BBC's John Pienaar
"He is giving up his share options to join Downing Street"

Alastair Campbell
"I have always been there to serve the prime minister and the government"

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