Woodward tried to replace Campbell with someone 'more honest and honourable'
Woodward wanted 'more honest' media officer
Archive Story from 29th June, 2005
The East Terrace can reveal that former Iraqi Information Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf - dubbed 'Comical Ali' for the bizarre press statements he issued whilst acting as Saddam Hussein's spin doctor Ė was in line to replace Alastair Campbell as the Lionsí media consultant.
Sources close to Woodward have revealed that the head coach was 'less than impressed' with Campbellís handling of the tour and tried to bring in a less controversial, more 'genuine' replacement. After the first Test defeat, and the ham-fisted media handling of the OíDriscoll incident, Woodward spoke with Mr Sahhaf and had apparently agreed terms for him to replace Campbell. However, Mr Sahhaf backed out when he carried out some research and decided that the Lionsí tour was a lost cause.
'I didnít want to be associated with something so futile,' said Mr Sahhaf. 'Besides, if Mr Campbell was unable to handle it then I donít think anyone could.'
Woodward has come under heavy fire from journalists and former players for appointing Tony Blairís former spin doctor to the tour and tarnishing the proud heritage of the Lions. Many sources feel that the appointment of Mr. Sahhaf would have added a degree of credibility to the statements issued from the Lionsí camp, which often turned out to be misleading or contrived.
One former player, who refused to be named, claimed the sight of Alastair Campbell wearing a Lionsí tracksuit was 'sickening'. 'Iím sure most of the British and Irish fans would have been able to swallow the image of Comical Ali in a Lionsí tracksuit sooner than Alastair Campbell.'
Meanwhile, Alastair Campbell has refused to comment on suggestions that he is attempting to digitally doctor all moving images of the Test series to portray a Lionsí victory by two games to one.