Humble blogger Guido Folkes scores one for his namesake.
Story, News of The World
THE shocking extent of planned smears against the Tories which led to the resignation of Gordon Brown's most trusted aide last night are revealed today by the News of the World.
The Prime Minister's personal spin doctor Damian McBride quit after it emerged he and Derek Draper, Labour's internet campaign chief, conspired to spread false and sinister stories of a highly personal nature.
McBride boasted that the sleaze campaign "will put the fear of God" into the Tories.
SMEAR ONE . . . a story that Conservative leader David Cameron has an embarrassing medical condition.
SMEAR TWO . . . a vicious triple attack on Shadow Chancellor George Osborne. It suggests he had sex and took drugs with a prostitute, that his wife is "emotionally fragile" and that an ex girlfriend has photos of him in a bra, knickers and suspenders.
SMEAR THREE . . . involves MP Nadine Dorries and another Tory MP. Last night mother-of-three Dorries said she was consulting lawyers.
SMEAR FOUR . . . that a Tory MP used his position to get publicity for a firm in which his partner is boss.
McBride-known to friends as "Mad Dog" and enemies as "McPoison"-quit at teatime yesterday just hours after admitting the planned smears to Gordon Brown, calling his own actions "inappropriate and juvenile".
Last night Draper, husband of GMTV's Kate Garraway, was also under pressure but refused to go. He said: "I don't think I should resign for receiving an email I did not publish.
"This was a mate sending another mate some gossipy stories that never saw the light of day. Some were brilliant and rather funny."
He said McBride should not have had to quit, adding: "It's very sad. I don't think it is fair." McBride, 34, confessed to the PM about the emails on Friday night, insisting no one else from Downing St was involved.
No 10 aides tried to dismiss the plot as "ill-judged gossip between friends" which was never meant for the public.
But we can reveal the campaign was far more advanced than that.
In emails sent from McBride's Downing Street account he told Draper of his plans: "One is a solid investigative story. The other three are gossipy and mainly intended to destabilise the Tories."
In a damning admission he confesses to using "a bit of poetic licence".
Draper wrote back: "These are absolutely totally brilliant, Damian. I'll think about timing." McBride added: "We've got to keep the momentum going."
The sick stories were drafted and pictures were even selected to go alongside them. A website, called Red Rag, had been set up to run them.
Our exposé will come as a massive blow to Mr Brown. It is hugely damaging that his closest aide was planning such a vicious hate campaign.
McBride's resignation is his second in a matter of months.
Last year ministers protested to the PM that McBride, then chief spokesman, was briefing against them.
And many were furious that Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly's resignation was revealed by McBride in a 3am briefing in a hotel lobby during the Labour conference last October.
McBride offered to stand aside and the PM reluctantly agreed. Instead, McBride was given a key backroom role co-ordinating Downing Street's political strategy including planning attacks on Tory policies.
Mr Cameron has already warned friends he expects Labour to launch its dirtiest ever election campaign.
Draper, 41, has been given the role of attracting voters back to Labour via the internet. That job is seen as one of the most crucial roles of Labour's next election campaign.
Our revelations today are a devastating blow to Draper's credibility.
McBride set out the plans in email exchanges with Draper-formerly Peter Mandelson's spin doctor-in January this year.
They intended that McBride would secretly write them but they would appear to be penned by trade union loyalist Andrew Dodgshon on the new Red Rag site.
Brown's previous spin chief Charlie Whelan and Unite union press officer Dodgshon were copied in on the emails but there is no suggestion they were actively involved.
Perhaps the most appalling smear was the false rumour that David Cameron suffers from an embarrassing health problem. We have decided not to disclose the nature of it.
McBride and Draper planned to run the story on the website with a picture of Dr Christian Jessen of TV series Embarrassing Illnesses.
In the email, McBride said: "If David Cameron wants to go down the American route of having TV debates before the next election, why doesn't he go the whole hog and propose that the party leaders also publish their full financial and medical records?
"He could clear up exactly how much the Camerons are worth and he could make clear that he's not hiding any Embarrassing Illnesses (Insert the picture of Dr Christian Jessen, who's supposedly the doctor who treated him and who presents the Embarrassing Illnesses programme.)"
He said Cameron could be asked if he had paid for any private medical treatment since he became an MP.
He then wrote: "If someone asked him that in an interview I predict we'd see him shifting uncomfortably in his seat and scratching around for an answer."
Mr Cameron has always been open about his medical history, admitting going to a sexual health clinic for a check-up when he was at university.
McBride and Draper also planned to plant a story about the fragile mental state of George Osborne's wife Frances in the wake of the Yachtgate row over claims Mr Osborne sought a £50,000 party donation from a Russian billionaire while on holiday.
There were absolutely no grounds for such a claim. All the pair could point to were suggestions Frances looked "sullen" at parties.
In a draft of the story they planned to publish on the website, McBride wrote: "Why are friends of George Osborne letting it be known that his wife Frances has been feeling emotionally fragile since his Yachtgate troubles in the summer, supposedly appearing sullen at party events and becoming upset when seeing media coverage critical of her husband?
"It's suspicious that George's 'friends' keep dropping allusions to her 'problems' into conversation and smacks of a deliberate ploy." He claims the ploy could have allowed Osborne to use the 'family excuse' if he was sacked in a Shadow Cabinet reshuffle.
In another smear on Osborne they claim the Shadow Chancellor's ex-girlfriend had photographs of him from his university days dressed in sexy women's underwear and another of him with his face blacked up.
McBride also suggests Osborne had sex and took drugs with a prostitute.
In 2005 the News of the World revealed Osborne shared nights out with a drug-taking vice girl who helped turn his best pal into an addict. Osborne denied her story that he took drugs and there is no evidence any of McBride's claims are true.
But McBride claims there is evidence he did and falsely claims he had sex with her. Our story did not suggest in any way that Osborne had sex with the girl.
In another story, McBride and Draper planned to reveal a Tory MP had used his position to get publicity for a business where his gay partner works.
He listed occasions when the MP had praised the firm in the House of Commons and hosted a reception in Parliament to promote their goods.
McBride wrote: "Is it acceptable that a Conservative should routinely use his position in the House of Commons to offer free publicity while never once declaring his close personal relationship with their Managing Director?"
The bombshell emails came into the possession of Paul Staines, who writes the Guido Fawkes political blog widely read in Westminster.
Right-winger Staines has a long-running feud with Draper and had been taunting him and McBride about the existence of the emails. On Thursday Staines put up a picture of McBride caught in rifle target cross-hairs with the words: "He who lives by the smear . . . "
After quitting last night, McBride issued a statement saying: "When Derek Draper suggested using a website to compete with the kind of material seen on the Fawkes blog, he asked me to write up some of the stories doing the rounds in Westminster.
"Derek and I decided in the end that this website was the wrong thing to do.
"I have apologised for the inappropriate and juvenile content of my emails, and the offence they have caused, but I did not want these stories in the public domain. It is because Paul Staines has put them there and I am sickened he has done so."
Before McBride quit, co-conspirator Draper attempted to deflect the attention from him.
Writing on his LabourList website he said: "The emails sent to me from my mate in Downing Street were the whole extent of his involvement and couldn't have taken more than an hour or so to write."
Cabinet Office Minister Tom Watson is referred to in the emails but there is no evidence he was involved.
MP Dorries said on her blog, also before McBride quit: "The email accusations regarding myself are 100 per cent not true. Downing St dismissed the emails as a 'joke'.
"I don't regard the fact that Damian McBride, who takes his instruction from and reports directly to the PM, attempted to destroy my reputation, career and my life as a joke."
Click to view image: 'Gordon Brown with his former right-hand man Damian'
Click to view image: 'emails'
Click to view image: 'Cameron and wife'
Click to view image: 'Shadow Chancellor George Osborne and wife Frances'
Click to view image: 'BLOGGER: Guido '
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