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Civil servant arrested over leak of diplomatic cables that forced ambassador’s resignation

A civil servant has been arrested by counter-terrorism officers on suspicion of offences under the Official Secrets Act, relating to the leaking of diplomatic cables which led the UK’s ambassador to Washington to resign.

Long-serving statesman Kim Darroch, now Lord Darroch, was forced to stand down in 2019 after messages he wrote criticising the Trump White House as “inept” and “dysfunctional” were leaked to the press.

London’s Metropolitan Police said that Counter Terrorism Command officers had arrested a man on Tuesday “on suspicion of offences under the Official Secrets Act and misconduct in a public office”.

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“The man was taken to a London police station and was subsequently released on police bail to a date in mid-November. Inquiries continue,” the force said in a statement.

A very stupid guy

The residence of former British Ambassador Sir Kim Darroch in Washington, DC (Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images)

The Mail on Sunday reported that the civil servant was employed at the Department for International Trade, which the paper said has suspended him on full pay amid its own internal inquiry.

The department did not respond to a request for comment.

Lord Darroch resigned from his post in Washington last July, saying his position had become “impossible” following the leak which prompted the US president to brand him “a very stupid guy” with whom the White House could not work.

Boris Johnson, a Tory leadership candidate at the time, faced stiff criticism for failing to fully support the diplomat.

Following the incident, MPs said a “corrosive culture of leaking” at the heart of Whitehall should be tackled with a robust approach and tougher sanctions.

The Commons Foreign Affairs Committee suggested a review of Foreign Office classification measures for sensitive messages and suggested that leakers could face being stripped of their pensions and be made to pay for the cost of investigations.