The British ambassador to the US bitterly regrets giving Chris Grayling the use of his laptop for a couple of minutes.
Leaked emails from Sir Kim Darroch have caused a diplomatic furore. How could a senior diplomat with over forty-years experience allow his emails to be made public? What kind of buffoonery was at play?
“Bloody Grayling!” said Sir Kim.
“In hindsight, it seems like a basic schoolboy error but at the time I thought ‘of course a cabinet minister is capable of sending an email without generating international headlines.’
“I was doing some work in the Whitehall canteen when Chris Grayling approached me. He asked if he could very quickly log into his hotmail account to email Amazon about some trains he’d recently bought.
“Apparently the new operator Hornby had sent ridiculously small carriages that wouldn’t be any good at all on the Northwestern railway.
“Anyway, I said of course he could, and slid the laptop over to him.
“Alarm bells should have sounded when he pulled a fountain pen from his pocket and started scrawling on the screen.
“I explained he needed to use the keyboard. ‘Ooh, all mod cons,’ he said.
“Forty-five seconds later he got up, said thanks and hurried away.
“I turned the computer around to find a plain blue screen – he’d somehow deleted the operating system.
“I thought that was annoying but the next thing I knew my private emails were all over the press.
“It’s difficult to have a go at him as I should have been the responsible adult. It would be like scolding a toddler for ‘helping’ by pouring weed killer onto your prize roses.
“Grayling simply doesn’t know any better. He really is the Mr Magoo of government.”