11 NOVEMBER 1949, Page 5


WHEN the Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs was questioned about the document, purporting to be a private memorandum by Mr. Bevin on Anglo- Italian relations, published by the American Journal, Newsweek, he gave the diplomatic reply that the Foreign Secretary "cannot accept responsibility" for the memorandum as pub- lished. That does not carry us much further, but I think it may be taken that what is given by Newsweek as " the document " is not textually " the document." Even if it were it would, in my judgement, neither reflect discredit on the Foreign Secretary nor in any way complicate Anglo-Italian relations. Mr. Mayhew, indeed, expressly stated in his answer that the Italian Government had assured him that the publication would not be allowed to affect the continued improvement in relations with Great Britain in any way. There was never any reason why it should, for what Mr. Bevin was primarily protesting against was an Italian Press campaign, and he said specifically that he heard nothing of the alleged grievances from Count Sforza himself, with whom he had several free and frank talks. It is always unfortunate when docu- ments intended for private circulation among colleagues get into the public prints. It would be satisfactory if as little harm were done in all cases as in this.