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Page last updated at 16:13 GMT, Wednesday, 28 April 2010 17:13 UK

Classic gaffes caught on microphone

Gordon Brown is not the first politician or public figure to be caught on microphone saying something he later regrets - here are seven other examples.

John Major
John Major did not realise his remarks would be broadcast

In 1993, with the Conservative Party tearing itself apart over Europe, Prime Minister John Major vented his anger with three Cabinet colleagues at the end of an interview with ITN's Michael Brunson. Not realising his microphone was still on, the mild-mannered Mr Major turned the air blue, calling them "bastards" that he would "crucify". He also went on to air his views about the sex scandals that had been rocking his party, saying: "Even as an ex-Whip I can't stop people sleeping with other people if they ought not." And then, turning to his own performance as PM, he pondered "how such a complete wimp like me keeps winning everything".

Gillian Duffy and Gordon Brown

There are several to choose from with former US President George Bush, but perhaps the most telling was when he appeared to greet his old ally Tony Blair at a G8 summit with the immortal words "Yo, Blair. How are you doing?" . The tape is indistinct and some people dispute he used those words, but he does go on to discuss how to put pressure on Syria to halt attacks on Israel by Lebanese militant group Hezbollah: "See the irony is that what they need to do is get Syria to get Hezbollah to stop doing this shit and it's over." The ever media-savvy Blair put a stop to the media eavesdropping when he spotted the live microphone and switched it off.

The famously gaffe-prone president gets a second entry, for the time on the 2000 election campaign trail when microphones caught his whispered attack on New York Times reporter Adam Clymer. Mr Bush described the reporter as a "major-league asshole" , to which Dick Cheney replied: "Yeah, big time." Mr Bush later explained the gaffe away. "I said what I said. I'm a plainspoken fellow."


Prince Charles: "He is so awful, he really is"

Just to show that Royalty is not immune from the curse of the live microphone, who could forget Prince Charles's muttered asides about a BBC royal reporter, during a ski slopes photo-shoot in 2005 with sons William and Harry. "Bloody people, I can't bear that man. I mean, he is so awful, he really is," the heir to the throne said without realising the microphones could pick up every word.


Ever the joker, US President Ronald Reagan was warming up for his weekly radio address in 1984 when he said these words: "My fellow Americans, I'm pleased to tell you today that I've signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes." It was not the former Hollywood actor's only live microphone gaffe. He once described the Polish as "a bunch of no good, lousy bums" and said his own economy was in "a hell of a mess".


Jesse Jackson's comments about Barack Obama - Courtesy of Fox News Channel

In 2008, US civil rights leader the Rev Jesse Jackson apologised for "regretfully crude" remarks he made about then Democratic nominee hopeful Barack Obama. Mr Jackson was talking to a guest ahead of a live interview when he made the remarks. He was discussing the question of Mr Obama's speeches on morality made in black churches. He said he thought there were other key issues facing the black community, such as unemployment and crime. The reverend added: "See, Barack been, um, talking down to black people on this faith based... I want to cut his nuts off... Barack... he's talking down to black people."


"The only thing they have ever done for European agriculture is mad cow disease," said then French President Jacques Chirac. He was speaking at a meeting with the German and Russian leaders in 2005. "After Finland, it is the country with the worst food," he said, adding: "One cannot trust people whose cuisine is so bad." A UK spokesman said: "There are some things that it is better not to comment on."


Normally ultra-loyal Labour minister Keith Vaz gave an inadvertent insight into life under former prime minister Tony Blair as he chatted on stage with Hazel Blears at the 2007 Labour Party conference. The microphones picked up everything. Just before she rose to give her conference address, Ms Blears asked: "How will you know that I know the answer?" Mr Vaz replied: "Just sort of wink at me. Don't start immediately because the mic has to go up. Don't speak before I call your name." Ms Blears, the then MP for Salford, joked: "Don't speak until you're spoken to." And Mr Vaz added: "Pretend it was like the old Cabinet."

Are there any memorable live microphone gaffes we have missed? Here is a selection of your comments.

When Henry McLeish was Scotland's First Minister and Helen Liddell was Secretary of State for Scotland they had a conversation while wearing live radio microphones at Scot FM in which they described the then Northern Ireland Secretary, John Reid, as a "patronising bastard."
Tim, Chatham, Kent

Maybe not a politican, but 'Big' Ron Atkinson paid dearly for his microphone gaffe about Chelsea's Marcelle Desailly...
Jonathon, Dungannon, Ireland

Surely Sir Humphrey Appleby calling the majority of benefits claimants 'parasites' when he thought the mic was off after a Radio 3 interview on Yes Prime Minister warrants a mention?
Anthony, Northwich, UK

I like Joe Biden's recent entirely appropriate use of expletive on the passing of the health bill. "this is a big deal". However George Bush never said "Yo Blair". Something pointed out on a previous BBC report (I think it was Newsnight) and easily ascertainable by listening to the footage.
Sam, Nottingham

Perhaps our politicians could do worse than take some advice from Norman Collier? He was a master at ensuring that only every other word got picked up on the microphone!
Tony, Malmesbury England

Very strange of the BBC not to include mention of Kinnock's notorious rant ("I'm not going to be kebabbed") prior to the 1992 (?) election which they then denied the existence of for years. Can't imagine them doing that now, although absolutely no justification for it then, either.
Richard, Leeds, UK

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