DIARY: Bank of England uses the strictest security to keep its secrets

To the AGM lunch of IPRN network members, held in the liveried splendour of the Drapers’ Hall in the heart of the City.

To the AGM lunch of IPRN network members, held in the liveried splendour

of the Drapers’ Hall in the heart of the City.



The guest speaker was John Footman, Secretary of the Bank of England, or

‘keeper of secrets’ as he put it - a novel attribute for the man who

heads the press office.



He revealed that one job of the Secretary is faithfully to record the

minutes of official meetings - such as the regular fireside chats

between Governor and Chancellor. ‘And what we don’t record, we make up,’

he cheerfully added.



But the amiable Footman appeared to have a somewhat love/hate

relationship with his job, insisting that he was not and never had been

a PR man. ‘An invitation to address an international network of PR

professionals therefore puts me in roughly the same position as Jacques

Santer addressing the British beef industry,’ he declared.



Footman fondly reminisced about Bank PR policy in years gone by, when,

as one of his predecessors remarked, his job was to ‘keep the Bank out

of the press and the press out of the Bank’.



Well he managed to keep me out anyway. A prior engagement forced me to

forgo the pleasure of a tour of the Bank, including the vaults. Mindful

of his guests’ busy schedules, Footman assured the rest of the party

that they could duck out of the tour at any time ‘except during the gold

bit’.



‘It’s deep underground and if you disappear down a corridor then you

will encounter all sorts of metal grilles, video cameras and chaps with

machine guns,’ he explained apologetically.



Presumably they were there in case anyone should to smuggle a press

release out of the press office.



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