27 MARCH 1942, Page 2

The Case of Mr. Casey

The Casey affair is unfortunate, and it is impossible to feel that its handling at this end was happy. Mr. Churchill, on the strength of what appears to have been a very slight personal acquaintance with Mr. Casey, the Australian Minister at Washington, formed a high opinion of his abilities, and decided to appoint him, subject to Mr. Curtin's approval, to the position of Minister of State at Cairo, which carries with it membership of the War Cabinet. He therefore cabled to Mr. Curtin asking whether Mr. Casey could he spared from Washington. Mr. Curtin, in reply, made it as clear is words could make it that a' this vital moment in the development of Australo-American co-operation Mr. Casey could not be spared. Mr. Churchill, however, pressed his request, and went so far as to suggest that Mr. Menzies, who happens to be Mr. Curtin's principal political opponent, might succeed Mr. Casey in Washington. Under this pressure Mr. Curtin confined himself to urging that Mr. Casey should stay long enough in Washington to meet Mr.- Evatt, the Australian Minister for External Affairs, who is visit- ing the American capital. That was conceded, and after further slightly acid interchanges Mr. Curtin was good enough to say that Mr. Churchill's personal part in the matter was " above reproach." None the less, as a cable from so responsible an authority as Sir Keith Murdoch to the Manchester Guardian shows, the affair has had an unfortunate effect on public opinion in Australia, and it may well be asked whether it was worth while to persist in moving Mr. Casey in such circumstances. As for the implication that no one can be found in Great Britain as well qualified for the Caho post as Mr. Casey, that hardly seems likely to be true, and if true, is not encouraging