DIARY: Cook angered as 'off the record' comment finds its way to print

Consultants drill the mantra into their clients: there is no such

thing as 'off the record'. A journalist will always find a way to shaft

you, so the theory goes.



Step forward Exhibit A, as Foreign Secretary Robin Cook is named in book

The Control Freaks, by BBC reporter Nicholas Jones, as the source of an

off the record briefing on a leaked report into Foreign Office

conduct.



Jones has come in for flak for breaking the convention of maintaining

the anonymity of valued sources - suggesting either that he is not to be

trusted by potential leakers in the future, or that Cook was not a

particularly valued source.



In the preface Jones offers a robust defence for his betrayal. 'Some of

the MPs, civil servants, political advisers and party workers featured

in this book might be aggrieved to find they have been quoted and

identified'.



His explanation - that reporters have a duty to be open about their

sources - cut no ice with an incensed Cook, who spluttered on the Today

programme that he would 'make no apology for an 'off the record' phone

conversation.



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