Gus O'Donnell at the Leveson inquiry

Lord O'Donnell giving evidence to the inquiry

The former head of the civil service, Lord O'Donnell, has told the Leveson inquiry that he is against the idea of parliamentary lobby briefings being televised.

O'Donnell said he opposed televised briefings at the time when he was press secretary to prime minister John Major and "[still thinks] that's true".

He told the inquiry: "If you televise a lobby briefing, the prime minister's press secretary becomes a public figure and becomes associated with the policies."

Giving evidence at the Leveson inquiry back in February, Guido Fawkers political blogger Paul Staines has called the current lobby system "a cartel" and called for the briefings to be broadcast.

He said: "I don't think it's a very healthy system. Former chairmen of the lobby have said its antiquated.

"'Downing Street sources' normally means the journalist is in a briefing room, being fed the line. Just put it on TV."

Free daily newsletter

If you like our news and feature articles, you can sign up to receive our free daily (Mon-Fri) email newsletter (mobile friendly).