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Consultant: 'Brown didn't scream at me'

Bob Shrum, left, said of Brown: "The Prime Minister did not 'scream' at me, blame me or direct a profanity at me."
Bob Shrum, left, said of Brown: "The Prime Minister did not 'scream' at me, blame me or direct a profanity at me."
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Bob Shrum: Brown "did not 'scream' at me or direct a profanity at me"
  • Brown accused of "abusive behavior", "volcanic eruptions of foul temper"
  • Journalist claims Brown's behavior was investigated by a top civil servant
  • Brown spokesman: "Malicious allegations are totally without foundation"

London, England (CNN) -- British Prime Minister Gordon Brown did not scream or swear at a political consultant who worked for him, the speechwriter told CNN, rejecting allegations published by a top British political journalist Sunday.

"The Prime Minister did not 'scream' at me, blame me or direct a profanity at me. The author who has now written this made no effort to check it with me. I would have told him it was false," American political operative Bob Shrum said in an e-mail late Sunday.

He was responding to claims in a forthcoming book by Andrew Rawnsley published by the Observer newspaper.

Rawnsley stood by his reporting Monday, saying it was "based on interviews with senior officials, prime ministerial aides, ministers and others who were participants in and eyewitnesses to the events it describes.

"I am entirely satisfied that the sources for the episode involving Mr. Shrum are impeccable and the account in the book is accurate," he told CNN by e-mail.

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The Observer charges that Brown engaged in "abusive behavior" and "volcanic eruptions of foul temper."

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Brown and his allies denied the allegations.

"These malicious allegations are totally without foundation," Brown's official spokesman said in a statement Saturday. The spokesman is traditionally not quoted by name.

The Observer claimed that Brown's behavior upset staff at his office, 10 Downing Street, so much so that the head of the civil service launched an investigation and "ordered" the prime minister "to change his behavior."

Britain has a professional civil service which runs the administration of the government, distinct from elected politicians.

The Cabinet Office, a part of the civil service, issued a strongly-worded denial that Sir Gus O'Donnell had looked into Brown's behavior or warned him about it.

"It is categorically not the case that the Cabinet secretary asked for an investigation of the (prime minister's) treatment of Number 10 staff," his office said in a statement. "These assertions have been put to the Cabinet secretary who has rejected them."

Before the publication of the excerpts from the book, there were rumors it would allege that Brown had hit staffers, which he denied Saturday.

"Let me just say, absolutely clearly, so that there is no misunderstanding about that: I have never, never hit anybody in my life," he said, according to a statement from his office.

The book, "The End of the Party," apparently does not claim the prime minister hit people. It is due to be published March 1.

Brown is required by law to call an election to be held by June 3 at the latest. The date has not yet been announced, but it is widely expected to be May 6, and the election campaign has already started.

One of the top strategists in Brown's Labour Party, Peter Mandelson, declined to deny that Brown had a temper, but painted his personality as a virtue.

"I don't think he so much bullies people as he's very demanding of people. He's demanding of himself, he's demanding of people around him," Mandelson said on the BBC's "Andrew Marr Show" on Sunday.

"He does not like taking no for an answer. ...there is a degree of impatience about the man, but what would you like? Some sort of shrinking violet at the helm of the government?" Mandelson asked.

Mandelson laughed and dodged a question from Marr about whether Brown had ever hit him or shouted at him.

But he said Rawnsley had a history of writing about events he had not witnessed. "He's a very good, colorful writer, but that's it," Mandelson said.

CNN's John C. King and Richard Allen Greene contributed to this report.

 
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