Civil servant arrested in probe over ambassador's leaked Trump comments

Kim Darroch quit British Embassy in Washington after cables showed he called US president “inept”, “insecure” and “incompetent”
Kim Darroch PA

By Jim Dunton

20 Oct 2020

A civil servant has been arrested and questioned by the Metropolitan Police as part of investigations into the leaking of cables from former UK ambassador to Washington Sir Kim Darroch that were highly critical of US president Donald Trump.

Darroch quit his role in July last year, three days after communications emerged that showed him describing Trump as “inept”, “insecure”, “incompetent” and raising the possibility that his presidency could end in “disgrace”.

Trump responded by calling Darroch a "pompous fool" and a "stupid guy". The diplomat said he could not continue in his role and that the “responsible course” of action was for a new ambassador to be appointed. 

Sir Simon McDonald, who was perm sec at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office at the time, pledged a “large scale” government-wide inquiry into how Darroch’s communications got into the public domain. He said that although the emails had originated in the British Embassy in Washington, they had been distributed across Whitehall and had a “very wide” readership.

The Mail on Sunday claimed Darroch’s comments as an exclusive in July last year. At the weekend it reported that the Metropolitan Police had arrested and questioned a civil servant believed to work at the Department for International Trade in connection with the leaks.

It said the arrest had been carried out by counter-terrorism police and was conducted on suspicion of a breach of the Official Secrets Act and misconduct in public office. 

The Mail on Sunday story carried a government confirmation that an arrest had been made in relation to the investigation.

On Monday, the Guardian published further details from the Met.

“The man was taken to a London police station and was subsequently released on police bail to a date in mid-November. Inquiries continue,” it quoted a police spokesperson saying. 

Darroch joined the House of Lords in November last year after being granted a peerage in Theresa May's resignation honours list. He sits as a crossbencher.

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