JACK Straw was blamed for a ‘whispering campaign’ by his fellow ministers during a Labour leadership crisis, according to a leaked memo.

The cable, sent in July 2008 by former US ambassador Robert Tuttle, said the Blackburn MP was being lined up to take over if Gordon Brown was ousted as leader.

Downing Street was ‘enraged’ by Mr Straw’s behaviour, he wrote.

Mr Tuttle’s comments are contained in the latest series of thousands of secret files released by the Wikileaks website.

The controversial website has published hundreds of thousands of messages it claims to have from US embassies worldwide.

The memo, sent after Labour’s defeat in the Glasgow East by-election, said Mr Straw was ‘being lined up by disgruntled Labour MPs to confront Brown and force him to quit before taking over as caretaker leader of the party.

It said: “Outwardly an amiable and affable man, Straw is viewed with less affection by some cabinet colleagues who say they have been at the receiving end of his whispering campaigns regarding their abilities.

"Critics are also quick to note that he was one of the first of Blair’s closest allies to jump ship in favor of Gordon Brown when he sensed the political winds were shifting in Brown’s direction.”

The former Justice Secretary cut short a holiday in the United States to quash rumours he wanted to take over, the memo said.

However, it added: “Despite his public endorsement of the PM, No10 advisors are reportedly enraged by the actions of Straw’s supporters who they suspect of organizing a coup, with or without Straw's active participation.”

Yesterday the Blackburn MP, who has since withdrawn from front-bench politics, said he had never organised a ‘whispering campaign’ but said: “I may have sometimes been too open about my views in private.”

He said: “I have a very high regard for Bob Tuttle, who was an extremely good ambassador.

“Ambassadors are expected to provide this kind of information.

“My criticism is in respect of Wikileaks and the people who leaked this.

“You can’t do business in this way.”