No 10 dismisses reports of rift with Clinton
No 10 Downing Street released a telex from Mr Clinton declaring that he places 'a high premium on the historic and special relationships between the United States and Britain'.
While the future US president remains too busy assembling his administration to see Mr Major when he visits Washington later this month, Mr Clinton said he hoped to speak to the Prime Minister by telephone and looked forward to 'strong personal relations'.
Neither country, he told Mr Major, could achieve its objectives unless they were closely tied.
The impression of strain between the two over the part Conservative party officials played in boosting President George Bush's re-election campaign has been heightened by Home Office confirmation yesterday that in the closing weeks of the US campaign officials checked records to see if Mr Clinton had applied for British citizenship in an attempt to dodge the draft during the Vietnam war in the 1960s.
That check was made despite a Home Office statement yesterday that official policy is: 'We do not discuss individual applications at all'.
As Labour demanded a full ministerial explanation, officials indicated that the search was undertaken in an attempt to be 'helpful' to a flood of press inquiries following the United States rumours.
Sources first indicated that despite the firm policy of not discussing individuals, guidance could have been given - and indeed appears to have been given to the Washington Post - that no file existed, thus killing the story. Had an application existed, guidance could have been given the other way, sources indicated.
That was later amended by a Home Office spokeswoman to say: 'If we had found any information, it would not have been released without the permission of the individual concerned'.
Tony Blair, Labour's home affairs spokesman, yesterday called for a full explanation from Kenneth Clarke, the Home Secretary, of what he described as 'an extraordinary state of affairs.
'If such personal information is, quite rightly, absolutely confidential and would not have been given out, why was it looked for in the first place?
'To have Home Office officials trawling through Mr Clinton's records at a highly sensitive time in the US election, when Conservative party officials were advising the Republican campaign, and Mr Clinton's actions when he was in Britain were an issue, is very disturbing.'
Any suggestion that such personal information might have been disclosed on a guidance basis was 'completely unacceptable,' he said.
As Mr Blair asked which minister or ministers authorised the search, Home Office sources said that the decision was taken by officials without ministerial involvement.
That was greeted with disbelief by David Winnick, the Walsall North Labour MP, who said it was 'inconceivable civil servants would do anything so politically sensitive without a political instruction.' If they had done so, he asked, had disciplinary action been taken?
- 1 Humans of New York image of crying gay teen receives best response from Ellen DeGeneres
- 2 What supermodels really think about posing in the nude
- 3 People all over the world are getting semicolon tattoos to draw attention to mental health
- 4 Swedish minister gives strongest case yet on why EU should stop turning away asylum seekers
- 5 Chris Moyles reportedly set to make radio comeback with new breakfast show on XFM
Humans of New York image of crying gay teen receives best response from Ellen DeGeneres
Greece debt crisis explained: A history of just how the country landed itself in such a mess
Swedish minister gives strongest case yet on why EU should stop turning away asylum seekers
Isis schoolgirl Amira Abase who fled London to join terrorists in Syria mocks victims of Tunisia massacre
Father faces deportation to Thailand after 27 years in Britain for two 'stupid crimes'
More Britons believe that multiculturalism makes the country worse - not better, says poll
Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
Osborne to cap family benefits at £23,000 – announced ahead of his post-election Budget
Greece crisis: IMF was pushed around by Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy – and now it is being humiliated
Forget little green men – aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert
Girl, 7, stares down hate preacher at Ohio festival with pro-LGBT rainbow flag gesture
£15500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity has arisen for a...
£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As a result of significant cont...
£17500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Auto centre is based in We...
£20000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This long established dealer gr...