Monday, 26 April 2010

Viewpoint: What has happened to the Foreign Office?

When I first saw the headline about the Foreign Office and the Pope I thought at first this was probably a silly internal e-mail or maybe even an April Fool's joke.


One word showed that this was actually a formal document. The Foreign Office statement of regret/anger/embarrassment said it had been "withdrawn". This meant of course that it had been circulated and it was something I had trouble in getting my head round.

This did not seem to be the Foreign Office I have known.

It turned out that the list of ideas for the papal visit ("Benedict" condoms, blessing of a gay marriage etc) had been drawn up by a team "brainstorming" for the visit and was attached to an invitation to a wider meeting.

This was definitely not the Foreign Office I have known.

"You cannot be serious" was my immediate thought. It still is.

The memo was sent with a somewhat unnecessary warning that some suggestions were possibly "far-fetched" (so why send them?) and with a necessary but dangerous warning that it was not for external exposure, often a hint of something spicy to a determined leaker. Read more No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the policy.

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