Former ambassador says it's the leaker who has caused tense US relations, not Sir Kim Darroch

Tue 09 Jul 2019
By Cara Bentley

Francis Campbell, a former diplomat, adviser to Tony Blair and colleague of US Ambassador Sir Kim Darroch, has told Premier he stands by the ambassador and blames the person who leaked the emails for the deterioration in relations.

Professor Francis Campbell, a Catholic who was the British Ambassador to the Holy See between 2005-2011 and is now the Vice Chancellor at St Mary's University, has told Premier's News Hour that Sir Kim Darroch should be kept in his position after emails of his were leaked saying Donald Trump's administration was dysfunctional and inept. 

The US President responded by saying that he would no longer be dealing with Sir Kim Darroch and called him a "pompous fool" and a "very stupid guy". 

 

 

Prof Campbell defended Sir Kim Darroch, saying: "I'm shocked actually that somebody would have leaked this, in particular the letter, or the letters, that have been leaked. I think the diplomatic telegrams have a wider circulation and distribution but the letters would only go to about maybe six to ten people and I'm very surprised that something of that nature addressed to the cabinet secretary and National Security Advisor would have leaked in this way."
 
Prof Campbell worked in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office from 1997 and later at the UN Security Council and then for Tony Blair.

Speaking of the consequences of this leak for the Foreign Office he said: "They need to have the confidence that the communications will be held securely and some of these communications are held at a minimum for a 20 year rule before they would be released. Some are so sensitive there might be on a 50 or 100 year rule before they would be released to the public and that is to ensure the confidentiality.

"But the flip side of that is that an ambassador is only as good as the people that are talking to him or her in confidence, and particularly in some parts of the world confidence is critical for people to be able to speak to you, especially if it's in hostile regimes. That's the reason that we fund the diplomatic service abroad...to have people on the ground reporting back accurate information not just what's in the public domain and for being very honest in doing that to the home government."

 

  

 

He added that from what he had seen of the leaked conversations, the ambassador was quoting others who had spoken to him and that "he is simply reporting back to London what key influential voices are saying in the United States about the White House and in that sense I think it's very appropriate for him to be saying that, in private correspondence not public correspondence."

When asked what he thought of the talk that a potential replacement should be someone from politics, such as Nigel Farage, Prof Campbell replied: "In the past we have had some political appointments in the history of the UK diplomatic service, and notably to South Africa, to Australia on once indeed to the United States but, by and large, the UK tradition is to have an impartial civil service and diplomatic service representing the government of the day.

"My preference personally is for the UK tradition - is to maintain that impartial and professional diplomatic service. The United States is a different tradition. When I served overseas, I served with political appointees, there were people a very high calibre and it had some advantages but it's a different tradition in the US system than it is in the British system and I think the British system has worked very effective to date it and I would be afraid of a politicalisation of the civil service or the diplomatic service in this way."

 

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