Slung Out of Our Own Embassy

Evening Standard — Letter Thursday 22 September 1983

By Christopher Long

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Slung out - of our own embassy

I totally sympathise with Mr Cotton who was so poorly treated by British Embassy staff in Paris. I have had the same sort of treatment on two occasions.

The first was when I called in to tell them that I had seen a young English girl arrested on the Pont St Michel by armed police controlling a demonstration.

I had noticed her earlier watching the disturbance as any tourist might. The staff at the reception desk were not the slightest bit interested that a British citizen had been roughed-up at gunpoint and thrown into a van.

The second occasion was about five years later in 1981 when I rang and then visited the embassy to ask permission to see personal letters and documents belonging to my family from the days when they had played a vital role in organising and operating escape routes for allied airmen and escaped prisoners in Marseilles and Southern France. These documents were given to the British Embassy for safe-keeping at the end of the war.

My request was greeted with such contempt and irritation by the receptionist and by a senior member of staff that I was too ashamed to tell my French cousins that I had been slung out of the Embassy which was once regarded by Frenchmen as the last bastion of hope and democracy, freedom and compassion.

Christopher Long, Earls Court Square, Earls Court.

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