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Alexander Downer Passed Papadopoulos Info From Bar, Denied Conflict of Interest to Press in 2013

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 30 – At the end of the year in which the UN's Cyprus talks failed, the UN's penultimate Special Adviser on Cyprus Alexander Downer is suddenly in the news.

The New York Times reports, George Papadopoulos, a young foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign, made a startling revelation to Australia’s top diplomat in Britain: Russia had political dirt on Hillary Clinton...Exactly how much Mr. Papadopoulos said that night at the Kensington Wine Rooms with the Australian, Alexander Downer, is unclear. But... Australian officials passed the information about Mr. Papadopoulos to their American counterparts.”

On CNN this gave rise to the question, Who is the man? They meant Papadopoulos, as it turned out, and didn't follow up on the UN link. But Inner City Press covered and questioned Downer at the UN on conflicts of interest (a stake in the consultancy Bespoke Approach) and if he would in fact become an ambassador, which he dismissed or “flicked away” in 2013.

From the transcript, question: “If and when the talks resume in October, will you be around, because of certain information-Downer: “I really enjoy the job and I haven’t any intention to give it up. I have seen speculation, which is some speculation, let’s confront it, as you all want to ask, speculation that I might be the ambassador in Washington. I am not sure I ever want to be an ambassador. I was the Foreign Minister for a long time, and to be an ambassador you have to live permanently out of your own country. That’s not so much something I’ve been particularly enthusiastic about. No one who is in a position to appoint me as ambassador to Washington has ever raised this with me ever. It is just a speculative piece in one newspaper. And I congratulate people here on picking up something in one newspaper. It’s Google alert, I suppose. It was just a speculative piece written by a journalist that if the Liberals won the next elections in Australia, the Liberal Party won the next elections in Australia that I would be the logical person to make the Ambassador in Washington. I am not sure about that and I am not sure whether I would want to do it. Nobody has ever mentioned it to me who would be in a position to decide. So, I can just flick that one straight away.”

But the question was not whether Downer could be Ambassador to the US and a UN envoy at the same time -- though with the way things are going, who knows? Rather, the question is whether being in the running to head a political party is in conflict with being a UN official, under the UN Charter.

Here's what Inner City Press asked on July 16, 2013, after publishing this on July 15: Inner City Press: Downer is the good offices envoy on Cyprus, but he’s announced, and I haven’t seen it retracted, that he is going to be running to be the President of the South Australian Liberal Party. This came up for a moment, regarding Mr. Prodi, but I wonder, what are the rules applicable to running, particularly if he were to win, the presidency of a political party in a country, and at the same time being admittedly a part-time when actually employed UN envoy UN Spokesperson: Well, I mean, I think the caveats that you have provided in your own question partly answer it. And, if I have anything further from the Department of Political Affairs, I will let you know. But, I don’t have anything further on that at the moment. Inner City Press: It seems like if it’s a conflict if he wins, this may be a conflict running, because he’d have the same… Spokesperson: …the principle is well taken in the question that you are posing, and I will see if my colleagues have anything.”

The UN, as remains the case under Antonio Guterres at year's end 2017, never returned with any information. But we'll have more on this.


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