He has a reputation for being the archetypal senior civil servant professional, unflappable, and, above all, discreet.
But Sir Gus O’Donnell risked sparking a transatlantic tiff today with an imprudent remark about Downing Street’s relations with the White House.
The head of the civil service, Sir Gus said the handover to President Barack Obama’s administration was severely hindering preparations for next month’s G20 summit.
In an extraordinary blunder, the usually-guarded Sir Gus said no-one in the U.S. Treasury department was answering telephone calls.
He said it meant the Government was finding it ‘unbelievably difficult’ to hold discussions ahead of the meeting of world leaders in London.
‘There is nobody there,’ he told a civil service conference in Gateshead.
Newsbusters understands that Obama isn’t picking up the phone but wonders why the US media isn’t picking it up either.