The Diary: Home Office press team flies Jamaica flag for Olympics

  • @andymcsmith

Some civil servants are going to be very busy during the Olympics fortnight. Not all, of course – otherwise the Government would not have needed to shell out for 2,300 tickets so civil servants could watch the events, including 410 for the women's beach volleyball, bottom. But at the Home Office and the Foreign Office there will not be a lot of time for enjoying the contests. The Foreign Office will have to look after no fewer than 120 heads of state or heads of government who will be in London, each of whom has to have an assigned official making sure his or her visit goes smoothly. The Home Office is also anticipating a heavy workload, and will be staffed from 6am to 11pm. To keep up morale, the department has organised a competition in which each section of the Home Office is assigned a middle ranking country, and there will be a prize of some sort for the section whose national athletes win the greatest number of gold medals. The press office has Jamaica. This explains why, if you visit the Home Office press office this week, you will see a Jamaican flag prominently displayed.

Rupert's blond bombshell

A story set in motion by the Political Scrapbook website has elicited a response from none other than Rupert Murdoch. PS revealed that two days before the Metropolitan Police began a formal investigation into the hacking scandal their ultimate political boss, Boris Johnson, was dining with the old mogul. A subsequent detail, which PS tweeted yesterday, was that he offered Johnson a job. At this point, Murdoch messaged his 250,000 Twitter followers: "Really? Actually just reading his new book on London. Writes like a dream."

So, Boris, in the unlikely event that the Daily Telegraph tires of having you as a paid columnist, there is a job awaiting you at Murdoch towers.

Warhol scores for England

After England's victory over Sweden at Euro 2012, Caroline Henry, a news announcer on TF1, in Paris, informed eight million viewers that: "England's first goal was scored by Andy Warhol." In the future, everyone will be an international soccer hero for 15 minutes.

Shapps gets a good hacking

Grant Shapps, the Housing Minister, accidentally helped advertise a Spanish brand of chocolate when his Twitter feed was hacked yesterday. The tweets, which he has since deleted, were in Spanish and when translated were found to be aphorisms such as "those who worship statues that are filled with grief and blush. By comparison, his unhacked twitter feed is, frankly, tedious.

Money for nothing

A third case has come to light of a member of the public being wrongly paid a large sum by Kent County Council. When Sheila Ferris, a care worker, was paid £15,000 in error, she told the finance department and returned the money. But then they did it again, this time stuffing £6,000 into her account, she was so annoyed she said she would keep it until she had received a proper explanation, so they threatened to take her to court for it.

These are the same geniuses who paid more than £21,000 to a maintenance worker in error, and cannot get it back because he has a new job, in China. And who are pursuing a retired care worker for the residue of £15,000 they paid her by mistake, which she is having to repay out of her pension. And who entrusted millions to Iceland's banking system before it crashed.

Brogan lands in the thick of it

Ben Brogan, deputy editor of the Daily Telegraph, provides a daily "breakfast briefing" to help people on his mailing list keep abreast of political developments. Yesterday's drew attention to a comment on Twitter which "isn't subtle" in its implied message that William Hague, standing in for David Cameron at Prime Minister's Questions, did so much better than the man himself. The Tory MP to whom this Twitter comment was attributed was named as Peter Mannion.

But, hang on, there is no Peter Mannion in any parliamentary reference work, although there is a fictional Peter Mannion featured prominently in the TV series, The Thick of It. Brogan's young ghostwriters for his email need to be aware that some Twitter messages are spoofs.