The Foreign Office’s new cat is not a spy, a top minister insists tonight.
Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond defended “chief mouser” Palmerston against insinuations by a Tory MP that the pussy could be an agent for an overseas power.
Conservative Keith Simpson, who sits on the Commons Intelligence and Security Committee, pressed Mr Hammond over whether the cat had been sufficiently “checked” for bugs by GCHQ chiefs.
Simpson asked: “Has he been positively vetted by the Security Service and scanned for bugs by GCHQ and can you assure the House and the more paranoid element in the Brexiters of Palmerston’s British provenance that he isn’t a long-term mole working for the EU Commission?”
Offering his “categorical” assurance that Palmerston was “performing” his mouser duties well, Mr Hammond went on to explain: “He’s definitely not a mole.
“I can categorically assure you that Palmerston has been regularly vetted.
“As for being a sleeper, he is definitely a sleeper – I’m told very often in my office.”
Revealing Palmerston has caught a total of three mice in his first six weeks, the Foreign Secretary insisted: “He has settled in perfectly and is performing his services more than satisfactorily.”
He added that the cat will soon have more Twitter followers than he himself does!