Sir Christopher Meyer was drawn into a public clash with MPs as he faced a mauling over his controversial memoirs. They unleashed a barrage of criticism, even branding the former ambassador to Washington a liar during an extraordinary session of the Commons Public Administration Committee.
In one of the most stormy Commons meetings of recent years, his DC Confidential was called "wholly disreputable", destroying relations between ministers and civil servants. But Sir Christopher said: "I don't feel a pang of conscience about this book. I stand by this book."
He denied he had not told the Foreign Office of his plans. But Gordon Prentice, a Labour member, said his claim that the Foreign Office had not reminded him of his obligations not to reveal confidences was a "lie". Sir Christopher replied: "I'm afraid that is not a lie."
The former diplomat insisted he was still fit to chair the PCC despite a withering attack from the former cabinet secretary Lord Turnbull, who said he had "no faith" in him and accused him of profiting by "sneering" at ministers.
Sir Christopher said: "I accept the situation has given rise to concerns and to embarrassment for some of my friends and colleagues, including at the PCC and I have already expressed my sincere regret for this." Sir Christopher said he had cleared his book with the Cabinet Office.
Tony Wright, Labour chairman of the committee, told him: "It may make you money but it brings a whole tradition of public service down with it and closes tighter the circle around people at the centre, who can no longer trust people they have traditionally relied on for impartial advice."Reuse content