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Thursday, November 12, 1998 Published at 08:55 GMT

UK Politics

Cook denies 'ethical foreign policy'

Robin Cook: Most irked by accusation he skips the paperwork

Foreign Secretary Robin Cook has denied he claimed to aspire to an "ethical foreign policy".

In a New Statesman interview, he insisted the media had misrepresented his words and intentions.

"I've given up trying to get this across. I've never used the phrase.

"I never said there would be an ethical foreign policy," Mr Cook said.

"I read in the New Statesman recently that I must regret the day I used the phrase 'ethical foreign policy'.

"Well how can I regret it when I never used it?

[ image: Legg report cleared government on arms-to-Africa, Cook says]
Legg report cleared government on arms-to-Africa, Cook says
"What we have sought to do in a practical way is to put into effect our values. People see that phrase and see it as grandstanding."

The foreign secretary equally spoke out about his treatment on the arms-to-Africa affair.

"If you look at the six months since the Sandline affair you will be hard pressed for evidence.

"Sandline was a very unfair period for me. I had around my neck a totally false claim which was that we had connived to break the UN arms embargo.

"The Legg report showed there was no such ministerial conspiracy. So I had very unfair criticism at the time and that took its toll."

But Mr Cook said he was caused greatest irritation by the suggestion that he neglected the detail of his job.

"The one thing I'm furious about, the one thing that gets under my skin, is accusations that I don't pay attention to the paperwork," he said.

"As a grammar schoolboy, accusations that I did not do my homework would have been similarly alarming. It is just not true."

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