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New code of conduct urged for diplomats after Mittal furore.

IN the wake of the Mittal affair the Foreign Office is being recommended to issue clear guidance to diplomats about how to deal with requests from ministers for letters of support for companies seeking contracts abroad.

MPs on the foreign affairs select committee said yesterday that the case of steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal, who donated pounds 125,000 to Labour, had raised concerns about diplomats appearing politically partial. The Mittal story, broken by The Western Mail in February, caused a political furore over Labour sleaze.

The committee stressed that a letter from the British Ambassador to Romania, signed by the Prime Minister, supporting Mr Mittal's company was a ``perfectly proper and necessary part of any govern-ment's determination to try to strengthen the hand of British exporters round the world''.

Any doubts cast about the ambassador's political impartiality were misplaced, its report said, but it concluded, ``We are concerned ... about the specific situation in which a diplomat may be at risk of appearing politically partial and continue to believe that more detailed guidance for this sort of situation remains appropriate.''
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Nov 14, 2002
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