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Alastair Campbell returns as a PR spin doctor

By Nigel Morris

He has produced four volumes of diaries, become a prolific blogger, starred in a one-man show, appeared on the after-dinner speaking circuit, raised funds for charity and followed his beloved Burnley FC around the country.

But until yesterday, almost nine years after he quit as Tony Blair's director of communications, Alastair Campbell had resisted all overtures to accept permanent paid employment.

The legendary spinner — admired and vilified in equal measure at Westminster — has been headhunted as a consultant by the communications agency Portland, which was founded by his former Downing Street deputy, Tim Allan.

Instead of moulding New Labour's image and message, Mr Campbell will advise a roster of clients that includes Tesco, McDonald's, Vodafone and Google. Portland has also provided PR advice to foreign leaders such as Vladimir Putin in Russia and Kazakhstan's dictatorship.

Mr Campbell will help companies with their long-term strategic communications, rather than their day-to-day public relations. And he will draw on his time in Government by advising corporate clients on dealing with any crisis that could befall them.

He has been working part-time for the company for several months, but disclosed yesterday he had finally decided to take a permanent post.

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