Ed Miliband mounted a spirited defence of his strategy director Tom Baldwin (right) on Sunday, as the Labour leader insisted that the aide had not been involved in any wrongdoing when he was a reporter for the Murdoch owned Times newspaper.

Mr Miliband said allegations made by Lord Ashcroft, the Conservative party donor, that Mr Baldwin had asked a private investigator to obtain information about his bank account were “untrue”.

Relations between the peer and the former journalist have been strained since Mr Baldwin published critical articles about Lord Ashcroft.

Mr Miliband said the attempt to draw comparisons between Mr Baldwin and Andy Coulson, David Cameron’s former communications chief now embroiled in the phone hacking scandal, was “ridiculous”.

“People are trying to make a comparison between Andy Coulson, who resigned from the News of the World over phone hacking of the Royal Family, and Tom Baldwin, who works for me. I think this is ridiculous . . .

“Tom Baldwin was engaged in The Times newspaper including in an investigation of Michael Ashcroft, about whom there was massive public interest,” Mr Miliband said.

A person who is close to the peer claimed he had evidence which would show that Mr Baldwin was not innocent.

“Mr Miliband has asserted that [Baldwin] didn’t do it and I have a very clear sense that is not correct. Mr Miliband is working himself into a difficult position, he is going down the same route Cameron did with Andy Coulson”.

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