DIARY: Fisher's jibe at COI's past staff triggers rumours of 'Ratner' nickname

Trouble is brewing at the government department COI Communications.

In an interview with the FT's Creative Business section, the body's CEO Carol Fisher concluded her eulogy on the changes to the department by adding: 'Five or ten years ago this was a rest home for people on the way out'.

A seemingly innocuous comment, until a tipster contacted PRWeek to inform us that many of those who worked for the department at the time have since gone on to bigger and better things within the civil service.

Our Deep Throat informs us that among the deadwood are staff now occupying senior press officer, head of communications, director of communications and director of external relations roles at a raft of government departments.

While he insisted that he would not name names, we are informed that staff have now been shifted to well-known retirement homes such as The Inland Revenue, the Crown Prosecution Service, the DTLR, the Office of Fair Trading, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Home Office, the Lord Chancellor's Office, the Northern Ireland Office, the Office of National Statistics, the Department of Social Security, and the DTI.

While a COI spokesperson suggested that Fisher's comments had been misconstrued, word on the street is that those referred to are up in arms, with at least two requests for an apology and, we are informed, Fisher acquiring a new nickname around Whitehall: 'Ratner'.

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