Storm in a teacup? French envoy denies turning up nose at Labour's tea and biscuits during meeting with Hilary Benn

A team of diplomats accompanying French ambassador, Sylvie-Agnès Bermann, were reportedly less than impressed with the refreshments on offer

Click to follow
Indy Politics

French diplomats have reportedly expressed dissatisfaction about being offered tea and biscuits during a meeting with Hilary Benn.

The French ambassador, Sylvie-Agnès Bermann, met Labour’s new shadow Foreign Secretary last week. But the team of diplomats accompanying Ms Bermann, who is said to be a stickler for hospitality, were reportedly less than impressed with the range of refreshments on offer.

A source told The Mail on Sunday: “Hilary’s team could not have been more polite but the French kicked up a fuss because they were served biscuits. They may have Moet and caviar at the French embassy, but not in the House of Commons – certainly not with Hilary Benn.”

Ms Bermann, 61, is one of several new female diplomats appointed last year by French President François Hollande. She speaks English and Mandarin, and her posting to Britain was said to herald a “feminised” phase in Anglo-French relations. Mr Benn, the son of the late Labour left-winger Tony Benn, is vegetarian and teetotal.

A spokesman for the French embassy told The Independent: “These allegations are pure invention and completely false. It was an interesting meeting that took place during the afternoon but nothing was said about the biscuits whatsoever.”

A Labour Party spokesperson said: "No such comment was made."