'Dirty tricks' claim over Tory blogs
By Colin Brown, Deputy Political Editor
Published: 06 July 2006
Friends of the Deputy Prime Minister claim he has been the target of a "dirty tricks" campaign by "bloggers" with Tory right-wing links. They are furious at the use of two Westminster internet sites to name a third woman with whom the bloggers allege John Prescott has had an affair, and a woman civil servant in Beijing who is said to have rebuffed his advances. Mr Prescott's allies have privately urged him to take action to remove the smears or close the sites down. His advisers said he was unlikely to do so, to avoid giving them more prominence. "It is the black arts," said a Prescott ally. "They are running a dirty tricks campaign and they are being used as a conduit by journalists." The Labour MP was named by a "gunpowder plot" website called Guido Fawkes. Friends of the blogger said it was run by a libertarian conservative, Paul Staines, a former Tory activist. The website yesterday challenged Mr Prescott to sue. The Prescott camp also accused Iain Dale, a past Tory parliamentary candidate, of using his own personal blogsite to recycle the smears. Mr Dale said: "Blogs have played a major role in exposing Prescott as a sexist, adulterous philanderer, and I make no apology. There are no dirty tricks here. No one is pulling our strings... Sleaziness is ruining his reputation without any help from me."