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Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 February 2005, 02:06 GMT
How Macmillan shocked officials
Harold Macmillan
Macmillan called some US officials "inept"
The draft memoirs of former Prime Minister Harold Macmillan shocked and dismayed the senior civil servants asked to vet them, it has emerged.

Newly released archives show officials thought Macmillan had flouted the Official Secrets Act.

The ex-premier wanted to reveal that President Eisenhower secretly promised, in 1957, the US would help if Hong Kong was attacked by Communist China.

The draft memoirs also contained jibes about Eisenhower and his officials.

UN deal

Worries about Macmillan's indiscretions came over the drafts of his fourth volume of memoirs, Riding the Storm 1956-1959, covering some of his time as prime minister.

He wanted to disclose that Britain only supported China getting a United Nations seat when it had American consent.

The Foreign Office also recoiled at remarks about President Eisenhower and his Secretary of State, John Foster Dulles at the time of the Suez crisis.

We'll get him down sooner or later
Macmillan on Nasser

He referred to "Eisenhower golfing while Dulles flounders" and used descriptions including "inept" and "emotional and vindictive".

Foreign Office officials warned the book could cause offence in friendly capitals across the world.

Senior Foreign Office official Sir Denis Greenhill said he feared the book "will do us, and its author, no good".

He suggested Macmillan "cut down on the pejorative adjectives".

And Cabinet Secretary Sir Burke Trend said it was in "complete disregard" to the Official Secrets Act.

'Outspoken'

Trend was also worried the breaking "confidential relations" could undermine the convention of Cabinet collective responsibility.

Another civil servant says "some pretty outspoken comments about Nasser" should be removed, including the pledge: "We'll get him down sooner or later."

When the concerns were put to Macmillan, he made changes "except in one or two cases which are matters not of security of public interest and where I have preferred to rely on my own judgement of Hammarskjold and Ike's golfing habits".

The document were released by the National Archives at Kew, in London, where they can be seen by members of the public.




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