Damian McBride, the Cafod media director and former spin doctor for Gordon Brown, has said he feels “sorry and ashamed” about his behaviour while in power.
In the week that his memoirs, Power Trip: A Decade of Policy, Plots and Spin, were serialised in the Daily Mail, Mr McBride told the Catholic Herald that during his time working for the former Chancellor, “with a well developed sense of Catholic guilt, I was in the bad position of being aware that what I was doing was wrong and being carried away with what I felt were the demands of the job. I was becoming corroded morally, and [was not] able to do anything about it.”
He added: “As Gordon Brown came under more threats from internal opponents and from the Conservative Party, the sense that he needed defending increased, and unfortunately my version of defending him became warped.”
Among his confessions Mr McBride admitted leaking details about the personal lives of Labour ministers who were viewed as a threat to Gordon Brown’s ambitions to become Prime Minister.
Mr McBride resigned from the government in 2009 after reports had emerged that he tried to circulate false rumours about political opponents.
He told BBC Two’s Newsnight on Monday that he was “sorry and ashamed” about his actions. But he told the Herald that after the response to the book, “I doubt many people will show remorse in public, because the reaction is not ‘good, they show remorse’, it’s ‘my goodness, how could you do that thing?’ If you are honest, people are unused to seeing it and their gut reaction is to say it’s disgusting and despicable.”
Mr McBride said that as “the greatest sin I committed” – plans to smear Tory MPs that led to his resignation in 2009 – had already been played out in public, “I felt I had nothing to gain by hiding the truth”.
The royalties from McBride’s book’s will be split between Cafod and Finchley Catholic High School, his alma mater. McBride joined Cafod’s communications team in 2011, having worked for his old school after his resignation.
Chris Bain, the chief executive of Cafod, defended his employee’s decision to publish his memoirs. In a statement the charity said it shared “the sense of outrage at the story about British politics as described in Damian McBride’s book”, but “Cafod recruited and employs Damian based on who he is today and it would go against all Catholic values to judge him for the behaviour he demonstrated in the past.”
For an extended version of this article, buy this week’s print edition of The Catholic Herald, out on Friday