Brown denies mistreating staff

LONDON: British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said he has “never, never” hit anybody as his office dismissed media allegations of staff intimidation which have threatened his pre-election fightback.

Brown admitted to a few solid tackles on the rugby pitch in his youth and throwing newspapers on the floor but said any anger was largely directed at himself, as he geared up for a general election expected in May.

“If I get angry I get angry with myself,” the prime minister told Channel 4 television. “Let me just say, absolutely clearly, so that there is no misunderstanding about that: I have never, never hit anybody in my life.” The Observer newspaper published extracts from a book by columnist Andrew Rawnsley, which contained allegations about Brown’s conduct. It alleged there had been a string of incidents, such as shouting and swearing at colleagues and thumping car seats, which had left the staff shaken.

According to the book, Britain’s top civil servant, Cabinet Secretary Gus O’Donnell, told Brown to change his behaviour. He reportedly told Brown: “this is no way to get things done.” O’Donnell felt the need “to calm down frightened duty clerks, badly-treated phone operators and other bruised staff” and tell them “don’t take it personally”, The Observer reported.