DIARY: Downing Street press office takes criticism at FPA media awards

The Foreign Press Association's annual media awards took place last week with the cream of the world's news organisations represented.

The FPA offered for the first time a gong for the UK's best press office.

This award went to the press attache at the Irish embassy, Geoffrey Keating.

But with only one contender for the worst press office, the judging panel did not even have to debate, and no official award was presented.

FPA president and Dutch TV reporter Tine van Houts told the assembled hacks: 'Some of our members begged for an award for the worst press office, so we conducted a survey among members. They all replied instantly 'Ten Downing Street'.'

This was music to the ears of judging panel chairman and PRWeek columnist Sir Bernard Ingham, who commented: 'When I was at Downing Street I used to brief the foreign press every Monday.'

'Alastair Campbell does it once a month and doesn't turn up most of the time,' grumbled one non-British reporter. 'Try calling Downing Street with a foreign accent and see how long it takes for them to put the phone down.'

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