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British PM faces tough questions over 'smeargate'

world Updated: Apr 14, 2009 11:31 IST

AFP
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British Prime Minister Gordon Brown faces awkward questions when he returns from his Easter break after his special advisor quit after sending "obscene" emails about opposition politicians.

Damian McBride, one of Brown's closest aides, resigned after reportedly trying to 'smear' the leader of the main opposition Conservatives, David Cameron, and other senior Tories in emails sent to a former spin doctor.

The prime minister said there was "no place" in politics for such material and sources in his Labour party confirmed McBride would not receive a pay-off.

The government has insisted that the emails were solely the work of McBride, who was Brown's political spokesman until last year when he was shifted to become head of strategic planning in the prime minister's office. But furious Conservatives accused Brown of creating a "corrupting culture of spin" and Labour figures also made clear their distaste at the activities of McBride.

The Conservatives' foreign affairs spokesman William Hague called for Brown to make a full apology. "This has happened at the heart of his government right inside Downing Street," Hague said. "It is very important that he shows personally that he takes this very seriously and that it is not going to happen again.