Stephen Fry 'texted' Michael Gove to 'correct his grammar', Justice Secretary reveals

Michael Gove sent ministers a list of his grammatical 'preferences'

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The Independent Online

Michael Gove, who will be remembered as the education secretary who was a stickler for old-fashioned education, has admitted that Stephen Fry has corrected his grammar.

The new Justice Secretary was accused of patronising civil servants last week, after he sent round a list telling them not to write “make sure” instead of “ensure”  or use the term “impact” as a verb, amongst other rules.

Asked by BBC Four's World at One programme to clarify whether he compiled the list, he explained that he had written a note of his “preferences” when he was Education Secretary, and that “extremely assiduous” officials at the Ministry of Justice passed on the list to those who were preparing correspondence and briefs.

He then went on to reveal that QI presenter Stephen Fry texted him and scolded him for his “linguistic errors” in the document entitled “Ministerial Correspondence Preferences”.

“It’s excited quite a lot of comment, there was a very funny article taking me to task in the Times today by Oliver Kamm, and also I received a text from Stephen Fry correcting me on some of my own errors linguistically," he said.

Driving the point home, Radio 4 presenter Martha Kearney then played Gove audio footage of him using the word “operationalise” previously on the show, The Huffington Post reported.

“I think I'll have to have a word with the, sort of, keepers of the arc of the English language and I think 'operationalising' is a particularly ugly construction, unfitted for broadcast,” he replied.