No 10 defends spin doctor

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DOWNING Street was forced to defend its top spin doctor yesterday after he raised Leveson press reforms in a telephone call to the editor of a national newspaper about an unfavourable story it was planning to run.

No 10 insisted that Craig Oliver was highlighting concerns about the way the Daily Telegraph carried out its investigation into the expense claims of Culture Secretary Maria Miller, rather than attempting to threaten the newspaper.

The director of communications reportedly told editor Tony Gallagher “she (Maria Miller) is looking at Leveson at the moment” during the call last Friday.

The Prime Minister’s spokesman said: “The Secretary of State had some concerns about the way that investigation was conducted. She set those out in a letter to the editor. Craig Oliver was simply reflecting those concerns.”

It comes after the newspaper revealed that Mrs Miller’s special adviser, Joanna Hindley, said she wanted to “flag up” the Cabinet minister’s connection to press regulation during discussions about the expenses story.