Labour blogger Draper to be cut adrift as RedRag domain owner sought

LONDON - The Labour Party is to sever its ties with Derek Draper, the blogger at the centre of the Smeargate scandal as the individual behind the registration of the domain name for anti-Tory gossip site The Red Rag is sought out.

Read Gordon's Republic blog post: After smeargate Labour using social media well., the website that was to carry the unfounded allegations about senior Tories invented by Damian McBride and emailed to Draper, is registered under the fictional name of Ollie Cromwell.

Downing Street has said that the prime minister had no knowledge of the Red Rag website prior to the stories published at the weekend and Draper has rejected claims that he discussed his plans for the site with Gordon Brown.

Draper was invited to Chequers for lunch with Brown 12 days after Red Rag was established.

McBride resigned as the prime minister's head of strategy and planning over his role in the scandal and Draper is under pressure to quit his position as editor of the LabourList website, which is backed by Cabinet ministers.

There were calls on the site for Draper to quit. One poster wrote: "LabourList is impotent till Draper goes."

While another said: "The first step to rehabilitation is to accept what you have done, the Labour Party cannot do this while you write this sort of justificational tripe and Derek Draper remains in the post of editor for the party's main internet site."

Ray Collins, Labour's general secretary, said yesterday that Draper's advice will not be sought in the future.

Draper claims that he only responded so enthusiastically to Draper's emails, describing them as "absolutely brilliant", because he wanted to gain support from Downing Street for LabourList, which he intended to be a Labour version of ConservativeHome.

There were two email exchanges that led to the resignation of McBride, which have not been published for legal reasons.

The first one starts with an email sent by McBride on January 13 and includes a reply from Draper. The second is a follow-up email from McBride with further ideas for Red Rag.

According to The Times, in an interview yesterday Draper appeared to acknowledge that he had helped to set up the Red Rag website, which was registered to an address in the House of Commons.

Red Rag was to be modelled on the libertarian Guido Fawkes blog, which specialises in scandal stories, mostly about Labour politicians.

Read Gordon's Republic blog post: After smeargate Labour using social media well.