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Jon Trickett MP, Labour's Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office, has sent a letter to Sir Jeremy Heywood regarding reports today of briefings from Downing Street against Andrew Lansley. In the letter he said:

"Today, a column by Rachel Sylvester in The Times quotes a Downing Street source saying: "Andrew Lansley should be taken out and shot."

"I know that you will be concerned about such anonymous briefing from within Downing Street.

"Indeed, in December, the Prime Minister rightly distanced himself from remarks made by his friend, Jeremy Clarkson, who had suggested that public sector workers should be "taken out and shot".

"Will you now launch an investigation into how a Downing Street source could make similarly tasteless remarks about a member of the Cabinet?

"Ms Sylvester’s column also quotes an "exasperated insider" saying that Mr Lansley has been "a disaster" who, far from winning over critics of the Health Bill, has managed "to further annoy and alienate NHS staff".

"Can you say if the Government now proposes to listen to hundreds of thousands of doctors, nurses, midwives and others and abandon this proposed legislation before it does great harm to the NHS and obstruct the reforms needed to help our health service?

"Can you also say if, rather than trying to blame everyone else, the Prime Minister will take responsibility for the consequences of his own decisions on the NHS?

"Finally, Ms Sylvester’s column quotes a strategist suggesting that, in future, "health reform should be carried out by stealth".

"Can you reassure the public there will be no such covert attempt to bring about fundamental change in the ethos or the care offered by our National Health Service?"

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