Magazine article The Spectator

PM Sick after Course of WI Treatment; Spin Doctor Refuses to Accept Blame

Magazine article The Spectator

PM Sick after Course of WI Treatment; Spin Doctor Refuses to Accept Blame

Article excerpt

'GMC in dock over second gynaecologist: Another "Butcher" Doctor'. Thus Saturday's Daily Mail headline. There was worse to come. That is, the disturbing case of Dr Alastair Campbell, one of the country's leading spin surgeons who practises in Downing Street, which is to spin doctoring what Harley Street is to plain doctoring. It was officially admitted that Dr Campbell had diagnosed that it was safe for a London man, in his mid-forties, to recover his health by addressing the massed Women's Institute.

Predictably, the man had a relapse. His life is now in ruins. His stricken family are demanding compensation. Said his wife, Cherie, `Now I am free to sell my heartbreak story - I mean, tell my heartbreak story. Basically, my Tony was perfectly fit until he placed himself in the hands of Dr Campbell. He had a majority of more than 170. He had just become a father. Then he suffered some minor wounds as a result of some class scuffles started by our next-door neighbour, a Scotsman whom the children had never really liked because he supports Raith Rovers which our two older boys can't find on the map. They think there is something odd about a man over 40 who's not married to a proper team.

`Anyway, Dr Campbell said he had a cure. All Tony had to do was say nothing for an hour to the Women's Institute. But the operation went terribly wrong. By Sunday, he was suffering from a collapsed MORI. Like millions of women up and down the country, I'm just a simple liberal QC. I don't know anything about medicine. But I was brought up to believe that the National Spin Service was the envy of the world. What's Mr Blunkett doing about my husband's case? As far as I can see, nothing. I didn't vote New Labour to see a so-called qualified spin doctor treat a patient like this.'

Mr Blair is now undergoing counselling. Mrs Blair appealed to the media to allow her husband space in which to recover.

Dr Campbell has a different version. After days of hiding from the cameras, and entering his surgery with a red box over his head, he broke his silence. But his remarks showed a breathtaking arrogance. `I'm a highly competent, skilled spin doctor,' he boasted. `I have carried out thousands of operations. Sure, I've made my mistakes. Some of them have gone wrong.

`I can't discuss an individual case. I read in the media that in the matter of this unfortunate London man I advised a course in WI therapy. Maybe I did and maybe I didn't. But WI always involves side-effects: I arouse envy because I'm flamboyant. Kindly leave my doorstep.'

Mrs Blair was `gutted' by that interview: `He showed no remorse. It's not his majority that's in danger. He can always go back to the Mirror.'

It will be noted that Dr Campbell did not go so far as to admit that he prescribed the controversial WI treatment. This is further evidence that, since the botched operation, there has been buck-passing among the medical team who operated on Mr Blair. Defenders of Dr Campbell claim that the same recommendation that Mr Blair should undergo WI was made by no less a figure than Dr Peter Mandelson, president of the Royal College of Spin Doctors. Meanwhile, before Mr Blair was treated with WI, Dr Philip Gould, the senior spin registrar who pioneered the miracle drug Focus, wrote Dr Campbell a memo. …

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