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Terror e-mail mole hunt launched

October 29, 2001

Jo Moore
Jo Moore said she knew her e-mail caused "disgust"

A Whitehall mole hunt has been launched to identify who leaked the e-mail sent by spin doctor Jo Moore saying 11 September was a good time to "bury" bad news stories.

The memo, sent within an hour of the US terror attacks, triggered a wave of bad publicity for the government and calls for Ms Moore and her boss, Transport Secretary Stephen Byers, to resign.

Tony Blair called what she said "horrible and wrong and stupid", although he insisted it was not serious enough to cost her career.

Now the Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions has confirmed an inquiry is underway to find the person who originally leaked the memo to the press.

A spokesman said: "It is a matter of course. It is an internal departmental investigation and normal practice."

The fate of civil servants caught leaking varies according to the circumstances, but sacking is not unknown.

'Tasteless' e-mail

Ms Moore sent the controversial e-mail to a handful of close colleagues within an hour of the two hijacked aircraft being flown into New York's World Trade Center.

She wrote that it would be "a very good day to get out anything we want to bury".

The Conservatives called it "tasteless beyond belief" and politicians from all sides of the political divide called for her to go.

An on-camera apology by Ms Moore for the "huge offence" she caused failed to calm the storm, and then separate allegations emerged that she had tried to involve an impartial senior civil servant in a smear campaign against London transport commissioner Bob Kiley.

But with Mr Blair and Mr Byers' firm backing she survived in her post as the latter's special adviser.


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