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Sunday, 2 July, 2000, 14:59 GMT 15:59 UK
Mowlam: Follett claims are rubbish
Peter Mandelson and Mo Mowlam
Mowlam says Mandelson has not 'briefed' against her
Cabinet Office minister Mo Mowlam has strongly dismissed claims that she and other ministers were the target of secret government briefings.

She said the allegations made by multi-millionaire novelist Ken Follett that Labour spin doctors carried out secret briefing on behalf of the prime minister were total "rubbish".

On Sunday, Mr Follett stepped up the attack he had already started on Labour's spin doctors, blaming the prime minister's official spokesman Alastair Campbell and Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Mandelson for underhand practices.

I urge Labour supporters simply not to believe the rubbish being peddled

Mo Mowlam

Ms Mowlam responded by saying: "Having read the stories in the Sunday papers, particularly the piece by Ken Follett, I believe there is no-one briefing against me, no foundation to the stories, and I urge Labour supporters simply not to believe the rubbish being peddled."

She added she was looking forward to the party returning "to policy discussions which affect people's lives."

Harsh criticism

But Mr Follett, who is married to Labour MP Barbara Follett, seems intent on stepping up his campaign of open criticism.

On BBC 1's Breakfast with Frost, he pointed to articles in Sunday's papers branding Ms Mowlam "unreliable".

Ken Follett
Ken Follett: Blairite turned Labour critic
He claimed Mr Blair was "totally responsible" for the briefings adding: "He is the only person who can stop it."

The novelist, who has always been known as a strong supporter of Blair, dubbed Alastair Campbell and Peter Mandelson as Tweedle-dum and Tweedle-dee.

"If it is not Alastair, it is Peter Mandelson. They are Tweedle-dum and Tweedle-dee, and if it is not one of those it is somebody who works for them," he said.

"But they all work for the same boss ... it is Tony Blair. If Tony told them to shut up, they would shut up."

Spin doctor responds

But Mr Campbell hit back at the remarks, saying serious people would treat Mr Follett's "rant" with derision.

He said there was not a shred of evidence to the claim that anybody remotely connected with the prime minister had briefed against Ms Mowlam.

"Anyone listening to the interview this morning might be inclined to wonder whether he has a new book coming out in the near future and his publisher's spin doctors are no doubt welcoming all the publicity," he said.

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See also:

02 Jul 00 | UK Politics
Follett steps up Blair attack
14 Jun 00 | UK Politics
Limit spin doctors, committee insists
12 Jan 00 | UK Politics
Spin doctors face greater controls
02 Jul 00 | UK Politics
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