British diplomat ticked off for criticising NZ

03:51, Jun 19 2012
Tony Clemson
TICKED OFF: Tony Clemson.

The British High Commission has been ticked off for bad manners after an article criticising New Zealand's green credentials.

Prime Minister John Key was plainly annoyed at the piece by first secretary Tony Clemson, which was published by The Dominion Post yesterday.

"As a matter of good manners, I wouldn't expect to see a second secretary in the High Commission of New Zealand in the UK writing something about [Prime Minister] David Cameron's policies," Mr Key said.

High Commissioner Vicki Treadell issued a clarification over the article, which was critical of New Zealand's urgency on climate change issues.

"It did not reflect the official views of the British Government nor of the British High Commission," Mrs Treadell said.

Mr Clemson wrote that he had several years of international experience working on climate change and there was "little urgency for grabbing" new opportunities in the low carbon economy.


There was "too much focus on the United Nations negotiations in New Zealand" and there "seems to be a prevailing opinion that Kiwis should do only as much as is required by their international commitments."

But Mrs Treadell was quick to run off a list of New Zealand's green initiatives.

"Taken together these actions show a concerted effort to engage positively in global efforts to tackle climate change," she said.

"My government is keen to be a supportive partner to New Zealand as we move forward together towards low carbon and green growth." Mrs Treadell would not be interviewed and had no comment on whether she had seen the article before it was published, or if Mr Clemson had been reprimanded over it.

However, Mr Key said he was aware Mrs Treadell "may have expressed some concern" about the piece. He suggested Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully had raised the issue with the her.

"Apparently, theoretically, it's written in a private capacity but I find that a little hard to accept given it's been written and he is an active member of the British High Commission here," Mr Key said.

He was not aware that an apology had been sought or received.

"I'll leave that for the British High Commission to decide. I mean, we have a good relationship with them ... I'm not that stressed about it, I am just simply saying it didn't seem like really great manners."

Mr Key defended the Government's green credentials.

"We're still moving ahead and there is a lot of countries I see that are definitely not moving forward and arguably moving back," he said.


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