Chime's Dave Hill to replace Campbell as Blair media chief

LONDON – A former Labour party media chief, Dave Hill, who works for Lord Bell's Chime Communications, is set to return to the political fold and replace Tony Blair's press spokesman Alastair Campbell.

Campbell looks set to go after the inquiry by Lord Hutton into the suicide of weapons expert Dr David Kelly, who was the source used by the BBC to back its claim that Campbell had persuaded intelligence services to claim Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction could be deployed in 45 minutes.

Hill quit his post as the Labour Party's chief press officer to join the private sector immediately after Labour's stunning 1997 election victory, which swept Tony Blair and New Labour to power.

Hill joined a small PR consultancy called Keith McDowell Associates and was one of the first of a long line of Blairite Labour workers to take their skills and contacts to the private sector.

Most high profile of those was Anji Hunter, a key member of the Labour government spin machine, who two years ago joined BP as director of communications.

Keith McDowell Associates was bought three years ago by Lord Bell and Hill now runs the political PR arm of Chime's Good Relations agency, whose clients include the GM food company Monsanto, Tesco and Corus.

Although he left Labour in 1997 after six years in the job, he was back at Labour's Millbank headquarters as a senior press spokesman on loan from Bell Pottinger for the 2001 election campaign. Hill is married to No. 10 Special Adviser Hilary Coffman.

As if to prove it is a small political word, Coffman used to be married to David Seymour, who was Campbell's associate editor at the Daily Mirror.

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