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Last Updated: Sunday, 27 November 2005, 20:52 GMT
Total recall

Sir Christopher Meyer
Sir Christopher Meyer was British Ambassador to Washington from 1997 to 2003

Sir Christopher Meyer is a "red-socked fop", according to John Prescott.

What's more he is no longer fit to be chairman of the Press Complaints Commission, says Jack Straw.

Perhaps they would have taken that view even if he had not been portrayed as inarticulate political pygmies in the memoirs of the former British ambassador in Washington.

One of Sir Christopher's defences for publishing his memoirs is that he had them cleared in advance by the Cabinet Office.

That surprised some. He will be one of the witnesses called in front of the Public Administration Committee when it begins an inquiry into the vetting of political memoirs.

Critics say that good governing becomes impossible when confidences are betrayed by memoirs published so soon after the events described when many of the players are still in office.

How can Ministers trust their civil servants and diplomats if there's a prospect that all their private conversations are being secretly scribbled down with a view to publication.

Defenders of Sir Christopher ask why there should be one rule for civil servants and another for politicians and their advisers.

Some say that Alastair Campbell's pension plan - his diaries of his time at Number 10 - could make him a million pounds or more.

Anthony Worrall begins his report by recalling the first great controversy over political memoirs: the publication of the Crossman Diaries.



BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
Political memoirs
Anthony Worrall's report



SEE ALSO:
How to write a political diary
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