Page last updated at 08:19 GMT, Wednesday, 15 April 2009 09:19 UK

Slur MP condemns No 10 'cesspit'

Conservative MP Nadine Dorries
Nadine Dorries continues to demand a full apology from Gordon Brown

Smeared Tory MP Nadine Dorries has attacked the "cesspit" of 10 Downing Street and claimed staff only followed values set out by the prime minister.

She said Gordon Brown had suggested in a letter that people would tar MPs with "the same brush" as Damian McBride.

Mr McBride quit as a Downing Street adviser after making unfounded e-mail allegations about senior Conservatives.

Ministers have defended Mr Brown's response, adding that the-emails had left him "furious and appalled" .

Mr McBride stood down on Saturday, after it was revealed he had sent e-mails in January to former government spin doctor Derek Draper.

They contained allegations about Tory leader David Cameron, shadow chancellor George Osborne and Ms Dorries, among others.

There's no place in politics for that kind of stuff
Ed Balls
Schools secretary

It was suggested the smears be published on a proposed Labour-backing, gossip-led website called Red Rag, but the idea was later abandoned.

Mr Brown has written to those mentioned in the e-mails, expressing his "deep regret" and insisting no ministers had been involved.

But the Conservatives have continued to question whether this was the case and, in particular, whether Cabinet Office minister Tom Watson knew about plans to set up Red Rag.

'Thrown to wolves'

Ms Dorries said she was particularly offended by the way the prime minister had expressed in his letter a "great regret" that "our" politics had been affected.

"It is the cesspit of 10 Downing Street and to say that we are all tarred with the same brush as Damian McBride is unacceptable," said the MP for Mid Bedfordshire.

BBC News grab of Damian McBride
Mr McBride resigned on Saturday over the e-mails

"It is the culture of 10 Downing Street. Downing Street was operating according to the values of the prime minister."

She argued it was "not enough to throw staff to the wolves" because they "were espousing his [Mr Brown's] values".

Ms Dorries went on to say the prime minister's response to the scandal brought into question his judgement on other issues.

"If he had written a letter, spelled my name right and said sorry, then this would all have gone away and the story would have dropped off the radar," she said.

"But the PM has misjudged this so badly, so with things like the war in Afghanistan, the war in Iraq - how are they being judged?"

'Stamp this out'

On Monday Health Secretary Alan Johnson said Mr Brown had had nothing to do with the e-mails and could not be held responsible for the actions of every person who worked for him.

Schools Secretary Ed Balls, a close ally of Mr Brown, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme the prime minister had been "appalled" by the e-mails and Mr McBride's behaviour had been "unacceptable".

He said the e-mails had been "vile, despicable and horrible".

"There's no place in politics for that kind of stuff. I think it's awful," he said.

But he said all political parties should look at the people they employed in order to "raise standards and stamp this out".

"All leaders have got responsibility to look at the people they employ and the tactics that they employ."

Mr Draper told the Guardian he was considering resigning from his role running LabourList, a Labour-supporting website.

"I know there are people saying I should go - but I think LabourList is a good idea and I hope to leave it a week before deciding whether to try to soldier on, which is what I think at the moment," he told the paper.

Mr Draper said he "deeply regretted" responding to Mr McBride's e-mail.

The government has defended its response to the revelations, saying people felt a "huge amount of frustration" over the fact that the controversy was diverting attention from efforts to deal with problems facing the country.

As well as writing to those named in the e-mails, Mr Brown sent a letter to Cabinet Secretary Sir Gus O'Donnell, saying he was ready to take "whatever action is required" to prevent a repeat of the incident.

He called for anyone caught "disseminating inappropriate material" to lose their jobs automatically, and suggested special advisers should not be allowed to use official resources for party political purposes.

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