Alastair Campbell returned from New Zealand yesterday and walked straight into another row over spin and his influence on the Lions during their ill-fated tour.
The Lions media consultant stands accused of ?mis-representing? Gavin Henson in the days after his shock omission from the first Test squad by staging a photo-graph designed to cast Sir Clive Woodward in a favourable light.
Campbell arranged for a photographer to snap Henson and Woodward together in conversation, a PR ploy designed to play down rumours of discord inside the Lions camp and defuse the growing rancour over his non-selection.
But only minutes before Campbell strode through the Heathrow arrivals hall, Henson claimed he had not been informed of the Lions? plans - directly contradicting the former Downing Street spin-doctor.
?I didn?t know anything about the photo,? said Henson.
Campbell, a controversial figure throughout the tour, refused to address the issue as he wheeled his luggage through the Heathrow arrivals hall.
But he had been pinned down on the subject by a Sunday newspaper reporter over the weekend and on that occasion stated angrily that Henson ?definitely? knew the photo was being taken.
The photographer?s version of events, however, is that he was told to hide behind a car and not let Henson know his photo was being taken.
Either way, the Lions were clearly aware of how Henson?s omission was being taken back home, with Woodward criticised heavily for being overly reliant on England?s World Cup winners.
Woodward, accused of making a vanity appointment, defended his decision to include Campbell among his vast back-room staff despite all the criticism.
?Alastair has been outstanding,? said Woodward.
The reputations of both men are tarnished but Woodward returned home still vehemently insisting he has no regrets, despite the Lions? 3-0 Test series defeat.
Woodward was greeted with applause from the smattering of Lions supporters in the arrivals hall, most of whom had just stepped off flights from New Zealand themselves.
It was a very different welcome to the last time Woodward returned home from a major venture to the southern hemisphere, when thousands converged on Heathrow to hail England?s World Cup win in 2003.
The Lions suffered their third whitewash in 11 tours to New Zealand.
Woodward?s mantra has always been that winning is all that counts - he has even written a book on the subject - but maintains he has no regrets over the Lions? defeat.
?You go for results and we didn?t win so it wasn?t successful,? he said.
?But in terms of all the players, the management and coaching side it has been wonderful.
?It was a very tough tour and the better team won.?
Woodward went on to describe as an ?over-reaction? by those who fear the Lions cannot survive in the professional era.
?The Lions is different in the professional age, it is almost a romantic team rather than a built-up team,? he said.
?New Zealand are a very, very good team and it is difficult to bring together four [Welsh, English, Scottish and Irish] sides very, very quickly.
?It makes it clear a fully professional team will always beat 15 individuals when you only have that amount of preparation time.
?But when you get the chance you should always go and do it.
?I still think the Lions is a great concept.?