LONDON – On Sunday the British public was introduced to what one political journalist has painted as the dark face of the country’s prime minister: an angry and abusive man, whose rages were so intense the country’s top bureaucrat had to intervene to comfort his distressed staff.

The description, carried in book ”The End of the Party,” by The Observer journalist Andrew Rawnsley, is vigorously contested by Prime Minister Gordon Brown and his lieutenants — who say that, while the prime minister does get angry, he’s not a bully.

Rawnsley’s book and its contents, extracts of which were published in an eight-page spread in The Observer, dominated Britain’s media Sunday. Brown faced further embarrassment when the head of a British anti-bullying charity claimed that staff at his No. 10 Downing Street office had contacted her group complaining about the workplace atmosphere.

In one passage, Rawnsley’s book describes Brown as furious when a journalist identified similarities between an address he gave at Labour’s 2007 conference and speeches given by Al Gore and Bill Clinton. Bob Shrum, who worked for both before taking on a job as speech writer for Brown, was left shaking by an expletive-laden outburst from the prime minister, according to Rawnsley.

In another passage, the book describes Brown yanking a secretary from her chair when she typed too slowly, and says that a nearby chair was dotted with marks from where he stabbed it with a pen.

At one point, the book said, Cabinet Secretary Gus O’Donnell had to intervene to calm the situation down.

The Independent on Sunday, carrying an interview with Brown, summarized the prime minister’s thoughts on the book in four big black letters: ”LIES!”

The excerpts’ publication comes as Britain’s general election is getting closer, tighter and more personal.