Image copyright Getty Images Image caption The UK’s ambassador to the US quit after private comments about the Trump administration were leaked
The UK’s former ambassador to the US has told BBC Newsnight he does not regret criticising Donald Trump in briefings later leaked to the media.
Kim Darroch quit last year after it emerged he described the US President’s government as “dysfunctional”, “inept” and “divided,” in private letters.
The use of “clear and direct” language was not unusual for diplomats when reporting to ministers, he insisted.
But its disclosure to the media was a “vindictive” breach of trust, he said.
Lord Darroch left his post in July 2019 amid a huge diplomatic row over the leaking of a series of private cables,, in which he had questioned the competence of the Trump administration and its handling of major foreign policy issues, such as relations with Iran.
In a wide-ranging interview with the BBC’s Newsnight, to be broadcast at 2245 GMT on BBC Two, he said he accepted his position had become untenable after his observations became public, leading Mr Trump to describe him as a “stupid guy” and “pompous fool”.
But he defended his conduct during his three years in Washington, saying it was the job of diplomats to report in unvarnished terms about the workings of foreign governments and how they could affect the UK national interest.
“I never regret the terms in which I’d reported,” he said. “I spent 40 years in the Foreign Office writing in these terms and people hitherto had thought it a strength and an asset.
“There is nothing unusual in reporting in clear and direct terms. Wikileaks shows American diplomats reporting in direct terms and the US embassy was reporting directly about how the UK government was handling Brexit.”
He said he knew he was “in trouble” when a confidential letter sent in 2017 to a small group of colleagues, which described the early weeks of the Trump era as “uniquely dysfunctional”, appeared in the Mail on Sunday.
He said he did not blame the newspaper for publishing the material but believed whoever had passed it onto them had acted in an “irresponsible and vindictive” way.
If their aim had been to get him replaced by a Brexit-supporting politician, such as the former UKIP leader Nigel Farage, rather than another career diplomat, they clearly failed, he said.
“I blame the leaker taking highly classified information of the most damaging kind to me and to US-UK relations.
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Media captionLord Darroch on UK’s government stance on EU trade deal
“If you’re in the position of having to write in code because you can’t trust your colleagues that way madness lies.