The Spectator

Campbell considered suicide

Campbell considered suicide
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August 10th, 2003 on being told while on holiday in France that the Hutton Inquiry wanted to read his diaries:

“I had received the request for my diary on Thursday and now, finally, this year’s was being flown out by Peter Howes [duty clerk]. As I left the house, and said goodbye to Fiona, I did actually wonder momentarily whether it would be the last time I saw her, whether what I discovered on reading my own diary would be so awful that I would want to top myself. It was only a passing thought, but it was there, and it came back several times as I drove down to Marseille. I knew I had done nothing wrong, but in this climate, things had gone beyond reason, it was like a drama or a novel, and nobody had control of events. I tried not to be in a panic on the drive down, but I was.”

Comment: Campbell’s diaries make clear several times how deeply affected he was by the events following the death of David Kelly. There are many discussions about his resignation, but now he confesses he considered killing himself. Campbell has a history of depression, and had suffered from a nervous breakdown before entering Downing Street. His diaries make repeated references to sleepless nights and the pressure he is under. However, the admission that he considered killing himself shows just was in a far more desperate state than anyone outside Downing Street realized.

Anthony Browne, director of the think-tank Policy Exchange and prior to that the chief political correspondent of The Times, is plucking out the most interesting passages from the just published Alastair Campbell diaries for Coffee House. To read his previous entries, click here, here and here.