Stephen Glover

Alastair Campbell’s redtop values have contaminated our politics

Alastair Campbell's redtop values have contaminated our politics

When I learnt of Dr Kelly’s suicide, my first thought was that he had been fatally drawn into Alastair Campbell’s world. It is what many people felt. It was a reasonable assumption that Mr Campbell or his office or someone responsible to the Prime Minister’s director of communications had deliberately put Dr Kelly’s name in the public domain – with disastrous results. We have since learnt during the Hutton inquiry that Tony Blair himself was involved in the decision to expose Dr Kelly. At a meeting in his study chaired by Mr Blair on the morning of 8 July, it was agreed to issue a press statement describing an unnamed individual who had admitted to having met the BBC reporter Andrew Gilligan. The next day Dr Kelly’s name was leaked to several newspapers.

It was as though this serious, precise and perhaps slightly innocent man had been thrown into a bear pit. I had this thought again on Tuesday morning when I read the transcript of his widow’s testimony to the Hutton inquiry. Janice Kelly’s account was painful to read. It was as though she was describing the collision of two worlds. The one was inhabited by decent people like herself and her husband. The other was peopled by Mr Campbell, treacherous officials at the Ministry of Defence, and journalists. These were two parallel universes that normally exist quite independently of one another. Dr Kelly had strayed from one to the other, and there was no way back for him.

Newspapers did not emerge well from Mrs Kelly’s account. ‘We have an amazing press in this country,’ she remarked at one stage. ‘It does not take them long to find out details of this sort.’ She told how a Sunday Times journalist called Nicholas Rufford, who was already known to them, had arrived unannounced at their house on 9 July.

Already a subscriber? Log in

Keep reading with a free trial

Subscribe and get your first month of online and app access for free. After that it’s just £1 a week.

There’s no commitment, you can cancel any time.


Unlock more articles



Don't miss out

Join the conversation with other Spectator readers. Subscribe to leave a comment.

Already a subscriber? Log in