» Wednesday, February 21, 2007


Asked if there was a cast list for the Crime Summit tomorrow, the PMOS said no. All announcements would be made tomorrow morning.

Asked if the Prime Minister would be at the unveiling of a statue of Baroness Thatcher, the PMOS said that added due to other engagements the Prime Minister would not be able to attend this evening. Asked what the other engagements were, the PMOS said amongst other things that the Prime Minister had an Audience with HM Queen.

Asked if there was a MoD Written Statement tomorrow, the PMOS said that it would be wrong for him to advance notice of what the MOD were doing but he heard what the reporter was saying.

Put to the PMOS by the Chair of the Lobby that there had been several times this week where the PMOS had been unable to give details of various announcements and events which have then taken place within a matter of hours, he went on to wonder if the PMOS had got problems getting the service he needed from inside Downing Street, for example today’s Prime Ministerial Statement. The PMOS said that frankly today’s statement was never going to be trailed in advance, or given any advance notice partly because of parliamentary considerations and proprieties there, but also partly because of security considerations. Advance notice of statements such as today would have formed a security risk for our troops in Basra and we were not going to do that. Asked if that meant not even simply saying that there will be a statement to Parliament, the PMOS said correct as everyone would have known precisely what we would have been referring to and everyone would have known the timing, including those who could have used that information to undermine the security of our forces.

Put to the PMOS by the reporter from the Daily Express that the Sun knew in advance, the PMOS said that did not come from No.10.

Asked that yesterday there was an impression and it had been understood that people were being guided away by No10 from the idea that the Prime Minister was making a statement this week, the PMOS said no that is not what he’d done. Put to him that this morning he was asked if there was to be a statement on troops and the PMOS had said there wasn’t, the PMOS replied that he had been asked if there would be a statement about Afghanistan this week, there isn’t.

Asked therefore what the statement tomorrow would be on, the PMOS replied it was not about Afghanistan. Asked if there was anything more precise, the PMOS said no. It was up to a government department to announce its business not the PMOS.

Put to him that everyday the PMOS announces departmental business, the PMOS replied that he did, but on the day not in advance. He added that he did not act as a notice board for Whitehall and if the reporter from the Guardian could not pick up the ‘phone and ask departments then he was surprised his newspaper was paying him.

Put that one of the useful functions of the PMOS was that all the important announcements from Whitehall were collated as it was impossible for reporters to pick up the ‘phone and call every department every morning, the PMOS responded by saying that equally it was important that departments’ autonomy was recognised.

Briefing took place at 15:00 | Search for related news

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