The non-denial denial

\”It is long established government policy neither to confirm nor deny speculation of this sort. However, given the intense interest in this case it is, exceptionally, appropriate for me to confirm that Mr Heywood was not an employee of the British government in any capacity,\” the foreign secretary wrote in his reply.

Employee has, of course, a legal meaning. One that HMRC takes great pains to clarify at times.

Strictly speaking Hague has just denied that Heywood was paid through the PAYE system.

Which really isn\’t what anyone was asking in the first place, is it?

2 comments on “The non-denial denial

  1. “It is long established government policy neither to confirm nor deny speculation of this sort.”

    And for good reason: so why do it?

    “Intense interest”

    And that explains ‘why’ in what way?

    There is always ‘intense interest’ in such cases. Saying anything on such matters in any one case will open (rather has already opened) the floodgates.

    Best regards

  2. So why do it?

    In a word, diplomacy. I don’t think the Foreign Secretary’s only audience was the House of Commons. Beyond that, one can amuse oneself constructing all manner of different, and mutually-contradictory, reasons why such an ambiguously-termed statement might be a good idea.

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