An undiplomatic history of British diplomatic dinners

Plus: The scale of digital crime, and the right hotel for your global shindig

6 September 2014

9:00 AM

6 September 2014

9:00 AM

In poor taste

US Ambassador Matthew Barzun attracted the ire of chefs for complaining that he had been served lamb and potatoes too often since arriving in Britain. Some others who have landed in the oxtail soup after complaining about British food:
— At a summit in 2005 former French President Jacques Chirac was said to have joked with world leaders that his country’s problems with Nato originated from being persuaded to try haggis by its former secretary-general George Robertson. He went on to say of the British: ‘one cannot trust people whose cuisine is so bad’.
— A lawyer acting for former Liberian president Charles Taylor, now serving a 50-year sentence for war crimes in a prison in County Durham, listed British food as one of the reasons Mr Taylor should be allowed to serve his sentence in Africa.
— US company boss Bernado Hees attracted complaints in 2011 when he told an audience in Chicago that he remembered two things from time he had spent doing an MBA in the University of Warwick: that British girls were unattractive and British food ‘terrible’. Mr Hees is CEO of Burger King.

Digital crimewave

The City of London police commissioner said that the scale of online fraud is so great that the public cannot expect the police to stop it. How prevalent is online crime compared with the traditional kind?

Percentage of households falling victim at least once in 2011/12:

Robbery 0.5%
Theft from the person 1.3%
Domestic burglary 3.2%
Vehicle-related theft 4.2%
Financial loss from an online credit card scam 5%
Computer hacked into 7%
Goods purchased online failed to arrive 16%
Attempt to obtain bank account details 22%

Source: British Crime Survey/Home Office

Summits of luxury

Where to book your international summit
Celtic Manor Resort, Newport:
400 bedrooms, 32 suites, 6 restaurants, 2 spas, 3 golf courses, 2,000 acres
Gleneagles, Perthshire:
250 bedrooms, 25 suites, 4 restaurants
Mappin and Webb jewellery shop:
4 golf courses, 850 acres
Lough Erne Resort, Enniskillen:
120 rooms, 6 suites, 3 restaurants,
Thai spa:
2 golf courses, 600 acres

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  • itdoesntaddup

    Barzun should be offered a constant diet of grouse – preferably still with plenty of lead shot.

  • UKSteve

    If they all paid their parking fines – a new record high – maybe they’d get better food?