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Anti-sleaze code set to rein in power
of government spin doctors

LONDON - The way New Labour deals with the press is set to change as Tony Blair plans to rewrite the rules with a new anti-sleaze code that will govern future media announcements and control the power of spin doctors.

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The new anti-sleaze code will state that government announcements should be made to MPs before the media, supposedly preventing spin doctors from leaking news to gain favourable coverage. Current guidelines only say that ministers should "bear in mind the desire of parliament that the most important announcements of government policy should be made, in the first instance, to parliament".

The move is the government's response to the House of Commons public administration select committee's report on the ministerial code, published today.

Ever since Blair's Labour government swept to power in 1997, with the backing of The Sun, its relationship with the media has been under scrutiny. Tony Wright, chairman of the public administration select committee, said: "This will certainly have implications for the way that government makes its announcements and for the current proposals on parliamentary reform."

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