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
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
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