Hillary Coffman

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Hillary Coffman is a former special adviser to the Labour Party[1] and acts as media adviser to the former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair and wife Cherie Blair. [2]


Coffman was previously married to David Seymour, Labour spindoctor Alastair Campbell's associate editor at the Daily Mirror.[3] She is now the wife of David Hill, a lobbyist for Bell Pottinger and former adviser to Blair.[4] Previously a spokesperson for former Labour leaders Michael Foot, Neil Kinnock and John Smith,[5] Coffman was a special adviser and press officer in Downing Street for Tony Blair's Labour government from 1997. She temporarily resigned as special adviser to work with Blair during the 2001 election[6] and was latterly employed as spindoctor to his wife Cherie Blair.[7] Coffman remained with the party "as a trusted, hugely professional and experienced aide"[8] until Blair's departure in 2007 at which point Coffman and her partner and colleague David Hill were reportedly "disappearing on a lengthy holiday before deciding what to do next".[9]

In an article introducing Blair's 'Babes on the Bus', Benedict Brogan writes in The Telegraph of Coffman's "unswerving loyalty" to Labour:

...Hilary Coffman, Mr Blair's most experienced press officer. Described by one writer as "elegant and beautiful" last week, she is a survivor who first worked for Michael Foot and has been one of Labour's most effective insiders ever since.
In 1988 she was briefly held prisoner by Zimbabwean soldiers with Neil Kinnock on his tour of Africa. Her ability to laugh at the often surreal situations in which Mr Blair finds himself - visiting a decontamination chamber in Stafford, for example - masks an unswerving loyalty to the party.[10]

1996, Accusation of "dirty-tricks" against Brian Sedgemore MP

In 1996, Labour MP for Hackney south and Shoreditch Brian Sedgemore accused Coffman of being involved in a campaign against him. Coffman had apparently suggested that Sedgemore fitted the profile for "Cassandra" - a member who attacked Mr Blair in the left-wing Tribune. Sedgemore dropped the matter "in the interests of party unity", prompting MP for Thurrock Andrew MacKinlay to give evidence. The Independent reported that:

[MacKinlay] is considering a defamation action against Hilary Coffman after she suggested he fitted the Cassandra profile. She denied the charge yesterday. "Andrew MacKinlay contacted Tony Blair's office ...He wanted to assure us he wasn't Cassandra. I told him that we had no idea who Cassandra was, had never heard Andrew's name mentioned in this context, and ...the only calls we had received were from journalists suggesting it might be Brian Sedgemore. At no stage did I suggest it was Brian Sedgemore. Mr MacKinlay seems to have got the hold of the wrong end of the stick," she said.
In a letter to Mr Sedgemore on Wednesday, Mr MacKinlay said he had been approached by two journalists asking if he was the author. He called the leader's office to make sure Mr Blair was told he was not responsible for the attack, which said Mr Blair could face a coup within months of being elected prime minister.
"I was put through to Hilary Coffman ...," Mr MacKinlay said. "When I told her my purpose for calling, she said, `Well, I must tell you, Andrew, that you don't feature on the list of suspects.' She then went on to suggest that the most probably person who might be Cassandra . . . `is Brian Sedgemore'. I went on to remark that I thought this was unlikely and ... I said `He was never on the front bench,' to which Hilary responded, `Ah, but we've looked and he was a PPS [Parliamentary private secretary] during the time of the last Labour government.' "That was basically the extent of my conversation with the leader's office."
Mr Sedgemore wrote to Mr Blair on Thursday, saying he was "dismayed" by subsequent information provided by Mr MacKinlay. "I now understand that Hilary Coffman . . . was not the only person amongst your aides involved in this poisonous affair," Mr Sedgemore tells his leader. "It looks like a dirty- tricks operation to damage an innocent Labour MP, using your name to do so."[11]


  • Lord Falconer - adviser to him, recorded in Lords' Register of Interests

Contact, Resources, Notes


  1. Info-Dynamics Research, "Where are they now? The 1997/1998 Special Advisers to the Labour Government", GMB: April 2006 Briefing, p11, accessed 12.09.10
  2. Register of Interests of Lords Members' Staff, accessed 17 March 2014
  3. Gordon MacMillan, "Chime's Dave Hill to replace Campbell as Blair media chief", Marketing Magazine, 11.08.03, accessed 15.09.10
  4. Nick Cohen, "The cost of apathy", The Guardian, 10.06.01, accessed 15.09.10
  5. Andrew Pierce, "Cherie heads for three paydays in US", The Telegraph, 11.05.07, accessed 15.09.10
  6. Info-Dynamics Research, "Where are they now? The 1997/1998 Special Advisers to the Labour Government", GMB: April 2006 Briefing, p11, accessed 12.09.10
  7. Toby Helm, "The final curtain", The Telegraph, 23.06.07, accessed 15.09.10
  8. Nick Assinder, "Blair loses his 'king of spin'", BBC, 29.08.03, accessed 15.09.10
  9. Toby Helm, "The final curtain", The Telegraph, 23.06.07, accessed 15.09.10
  10. Benedict Brogan, "Babes on the Bus who keep the campaign journalists at bay" The Telegraph, 01.06.01, accessed 15.09.10
  11. Anthony Bevins, "MP accuses Blair staffer of dirty tricks", The Independent, 25.11.96, accessed 15.09.10