A Government press officer today intervened to try to prevent a minister being questioned on air about Gordon Brown's chances of survival as Prime Minister. Work and Pensions Minister James Plaskitt had been put up to respond to questions on the latest unemployment figures and the Bank of England's quarterly inflation report.
During an interview with BBC Radio 4's The World at One, he was asked by presenter Shaun Ley whether the worsening economic prospects would further destabilise Mr Brown's leadership. Mr Plaskitt replied: "I am not commenting on that issue as I made clear at the outset. It is not about that."
His unnamed woman press officer, who was monitoring the interview, was then heard to cut in sharply, telling the presenter: "We are only talking about today's unemployment figures."
Mr Ley, however, pressed on. Asked again whether Mr Brown's leadership would be affected, Mr Plaskitt replied: "The answer's no".
Extraordinary stuff. Can anyone ever remember a press handler interrupting a live interview before?
Note: The programme has mysteriously not appeared on the BBC's Listen Again facility yet.
UPDATE: It has now HERE. It's at 17.45 mins.