Gordon Brown is presiding over a “cesspit” at Number 10 Downing Street where staff are acting according to the Prime Minister’s values, one of the email smear victims said today.
Tory backbencher Nadine Dorries, who was among those targeted by disgraced aide Damian McBride, stepped up her calls for Mr Brown to make a full apology and said it was not enough for him to simply throw staff "to the wolves".
She criticised the Prime Minister’s handling of the fiasco, saying it called into question his judgment on major issues like military involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Ms Dorries, MP for Mid Bedfordshire, also hit out at both the tone and the content of a letter sent to her by Mr Brown which expressed regret, but stopped short of him saying sorry.
It was sent after Mr McBride, a long-term adviser to Mr Brown, was forced to resign after admitting that he sent "juvenile and inappropriate" emails from his Downing Street account to former spin doctor Derek Draper. In it the Prime Minister expressed “great regret” that “our” politics had been affected in such a way.
But Ms Dorries, 51, said: “That’s what I take offence to — it’s not our politics.
“It is the cesspit of 10 Downing Street and to say that we are all tarred with the same brush as Damian McBride is unacceptable.”
She went on: “It is the culture of 10 Downing Street. Downing Street was operating according to the values of the Prime Minister.
“It is not enough to throw staff to the wolves because they have been caught — they were espousing his values.
“These are people employed by the PM, they have been joined at the hip with him, they were espousing his values.”
Ms Dorries also said the Prime Minister had made great play in his letter that he had written to Cabinet Secretary Sir Gus O’Donnell asking him to review the code of conduct for special advisers.
But she argued there was nothing wrong with the current rules, saying: “The Prime Minister wants people to think that the code of conduct is defunct, which is not the case.”
And she added: “The Prime Minister has shown that he has such bad judgment on this, and that makes me worry.
“If he had written a letter, spelled my name right and said sorry, then this would all have gone away and the story would have dropped off the radar.
“But the PM has misjudged this so badly, so with things like the war Afghanistan, the war in Iraq — how are they being judged?”
Her comments came as Mr Draper revealed he was considering stepping down from running LabourList, a Labour-supporting website.
He told the Guardian: “I know there are people saying I should go — but I think LabourList is a good idea. and I hope to leave it a week before deciding whether to try to soldier on, which is what I think at the moment.”