Joe McCrea

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Joe McCrea was the former Special Adviser to Frank Dobson from 1997-9. He worked as an advisor to Mr Dobson in the Shadow Cabinet from September 1993 and previously worked as a research assistant to Tom Pendry MP. He started work as a Parliamentary researcher in 1990 [1] He then became the Project Manager of the Knowledge Network Project (KNP) at the Cabinet Office, with Chris Hancock as his depute. He is Director of consultancy firm JBMC [2]

The Knowledge Network Project

The Knowledge Network Project was launched in December 1999, with the aim of improving the way in which civil servants across government are able to create and share with each other comprehensive and up to date information and policy briefing, facts and figures [3] and as a result McCrea has been accused of attempting to use the (supposedly 'neutral') Civil Service to create a powerful propaganda tool for Government Ministers. The idea is very similar to one that McCrea used when he worked for Frank Dobson at the Department of Health. The KNP system was provided by a consortium that included IBM and Lotus UK, who were awarded a £10 million contract in September 2000 [4]

Lotus, a wholly-owned subsidiary of IBM, provided a software system for the Labour Party HQ at Millbank in 1997. Lord Mitchell revealed in February 2001 that "Lotus has worked for the party for some time and I persuaded them to do a lot of work at Millbank for next to nothing." (ibid.). The Conservatives demanded an inquiry into suggestions that IBM won the £10m computer contract in 2000 after giving the Labour party a large discount on the Millbank system. An IBM spokeswoman maintained that the Government was treated as a commercial customer, and the two deals were not linked (ibid.). McCrea was a speaker at the 2002 Lotus Global Government Forum in Washington. Along with his depute, Chris Hancock, his speech was followed shortly by speeches from representatives of the CIA, the German Defence Department and the CBI [5].

One of the KNP's other applications will be to provide regionally presented statistics on the internet (which are already available on the Government's Secure Intranet) to back up Government campaigns. McCrea is said to have masterminded the production of similar regional figures in the Government's 2000 'Annual Report'. As with all statistics used in this way, you get what the Government wants you to get and there's never quite the same effort to present 'off-message' facts and figures. This control of access to information has been described as a "knowledge hierarchy" with the Labour Government at the top.

At the 1999 Labour Party Conference, Joe McCrea confronted a reporter who had used information relating to the KNP system in a news report on the NHS, yelling "You fucking lying bitch, you stitched me up!" and smashing a mobile phone [6]


  1. ^ Newswire Joe McCrea appointed Special Advisor to Health Secretary Dobson, Accessed 26th July 2007.
  2. ^ Cabinet Office news and media KNP team win Innovators of the Year award, Accessed 26th July 2007.
  3. ^ House of Commons Briefing Knowledge Network Project memorandum, Accessed 26th July 2007.
  4. ^ BBC News Tories demand inquiry into Government computer deal, Accessed 26th July 2007.
  5. ^ MarketWire Top Government Officials kick off Lotus Conference, Accessed 26th July 2007.
  6. ^ Seumas Milne Bournemouth Diary, The Guardian, 30th September 1999.