LABOUR owes Nicola Sturgeon no apology over its reaction “in good faith” to a leaked Whitehall memo that claimed she would rather David Cameron was prime minister, Andy Burnham said.
Ed Miliband called them “damning revelations” but the Scottish National Party leader’s vehement denial of stating any such preference to the French ambassador has been backed up by Paris.
Tweets about the publication of the memo by The Daily Telegraph on Saturday have since been deleted from the account of Labour’s campaign chief Douglas Alexander.
Mr Burnham said it was normal in the heat of an election battle to respond to what was reported but right to stop “making assumptions” about what was said if the claims were disputed.
Asked if the party owed Ms Sturgeon an apology, the shadow health secretary told BBC Radio 4’s Today: “I don’t think so.
“There was a very clear report in the Daily Telegraph on Saturday morning based on a memo that they had seen.
“We can only respond to what people are reporting. This is an election campaign.
“It might be the case that the newspaper owes her an apology. I don’t know if that’s the case or not because I don’t know what she said in that meeting, I haven’t seen the memo.”
Asked about the deleted Tweets, he said: “We are in an election campaign aren’t we? People respond to reports that are made and we respond in good faith.
“We were not in the meeting. We have not seen the memo. We have to go with the report that was made.
“It falls to us then, if there is a debate or a dispute about what was said that you don’t carry on making assumptions about what was said.
“I think that was the right thing to do in that case.”
Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood has ordered an inquiry into how the note - written by a British civil servant following a conversation with French consul-general Pierre-Alain Coffinier about a meeting between Ms Sturgeon and the ambassador - got into the public domain.
The SNP leader has claimed a “dirty tricks” campaign against the party.
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