Note to self: keep it under wraps

As Jeremy Masding’s handwitten note-to-self makes the front page, here are a few other senior figures who wish they’d kept their notes to themselves

 

Jeremy Masding, group chief executive of Permanent TSB rather publicly shared his presentation notes to self at yesterday’s press conference where the bank apologised for overcharging and wrongdoing on 1,372 accounts. Handwritten in the margin of his speech was the reminder to be ’Serious, Controlled, No Smile’. Here are some other senior figures who wish they had kept their notes to themselves.

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When Sarah Palin was asked during a Tea Party Convention in February 2010 what the top three things that a Conservative majority in Congress should do, Palin referred to the inside of her hand where she had written the words; “Energy,” “Budget cuts” (crossed out), “Tax,” and “Lift Americans spirits”.

Palin was paid $100,000 for her appearance, and roundly criticised for referring to her hand, especially when earlier that evening she had referred to Barack Obama as “a charismatic guy with a teleprompter”.

Ed Miliband’s note to self before the televised leaders’ debate in the run up to this year’s UK general election was to present himself as a calm and positive leader.

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His memo had the words ‘happy warrior’, a term originally from a William Woodsworth poem, along with a reminder to be “calm never agitated”.

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In the run up to the 2014 referendum on Scottish independence, former deputy prime minster and pro-union campaigner John Prescott made sure that he wouldn’t get confused about which side of the debate he was on. He was caught with the No side’s campaign slogan, “Better together” written on his hand at a pro-union street meeting.

ASSANGEFROMDAILYMAIL_WEBIn 2012 a British police officer was pictured in public with his hand written notes regarding the arrest of Julian Assange.

The notes which had been taken during a police briefing detailed how Wiki-leaks founder Assange was to be arrested “under all circumstances” if he stepped outside the Ecuadorian embassy, be it with a “dip” (diplomat), “dip” car or if smuggled out in a “dip” bag.

Following the publishing of the picture Scotland Yard said that “under no circumstances would any arrest be made which was in breach of diplomatic immunity.”

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In 2009, Bob Quick, Britain’s most senior counter terrorism officer, was photographed on Downing Street with confidential papers on which details of an undercover operation on suspected terrorists in England were visible.

The document contained details on the nationalities of the targets, where the operation would take place, where they would be detained after arrest and the media strategy for the operation. The photograph meant that the raid had to be carried earlier than planned. Quick resigned from his position shortly afterwards.

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In May 2008, the UK housing minister, Caroline Flint was on her way to brief the cabinet when she was photographed with documents outlining her fears over the falling house market. Flint was about to brief the government that house prices were expected to fall by at least 5-10 per cent, but that the fall could be even worse than that.

The disclosure was deeply embarrassing for the government as some ministers had said privately that they wanted to avoid increasing pessimism about house prices in case it would talk the economy into a recession.

Closer to home, in January this year Fine Gael TD Michael Lowry was publicly embarrassed when a handwritten note he had written to Taoiseach Enda Kenny was picked up and released to media. It asked the Taoiseach to consider reappointing a former PR adviser to Mr Lowry, Ms Valerie O’Reilly, to the board of the National Transport Authority. In it he described Ms O’Reilly as “a woman, bright, intelligent and not bad looking either.”

 

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