Prince Andrew’s most senior aide who was forced out after she persuaded him to appear on Newsnight leaked sensitive government documents to close friend and business associate
- Amanda Thirsk forwarded Jonathan Rowland Foreign Office cable, MoS reveals
- It included details of conversations between the Duke and Chinese politicians
- She emailed telegram after Mr Rowland accompanied Andrew on trip to China
In an astonishing breach of protocol, Amanda Thirsk (pictured) forwarded Jonathan Rowland a Foreign Office cable
One of Prince Andrew’s most senior aides leaked a diplomatic telegram to his close friend and business associate, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.
In an astonishing breach of protocol, Amanda Thirsk forwarded Jonathan Rowland a Foreign Office cable that included details of one-to-one conversations between the Duke and leading Chinese politicians about UK-China trade relations.
She emailed the telegram after Mr Rowland accompanied Andrew on a taxpayer-funded trade mission to China and used his extraordinary access to try to land lucrative new clients for the foreign bank his family owned.
The revelation will heap pressure on Ms Thirsk, who was blamed for orchestrating Andrew’s disastrous BBC interview about his links with paedophile Jeffrey Epstein.
A formidable ex-banker, Ms Thirsk lost her job as the Duke’s private secretary in the wake of his catastrophic media appearance. She will continue to run Pitch, Andrew’s business mentoring initiative.
Leaked documents show that on April 27, 2010, Ms Thirsk, then Andrew’s deputy private secretary, forwarded Jonathan Rowland an unclassified but ‘sensitive’ diplomatic cable written by Sebastian Wood, the UK’s ambassador to China. Mr Wood had sent the telegram almost a month earlier to London via the Foreign Office’s secure ‘e-Gram’ messaging system.
It had been written for other diplomats plus officials at the Treasury and UK Trade and Investment, the Government body which oversaw the Duke of York’s trade envoy work.
The cable was a report on Andrew’s three-day trade mission to China in March 2010, detailing face-to-face talks which had been arranged with Wang Qishan, China’s vice premier, and Chen Deming, the commerce minister.
The telegram included details of one-to-one conversations between the Duke and leading Chinese politicians about UK-China trade relations (Pictured: Prince Andrew and Jonathan Rowland)
Ms Thirsk (pictured left with Andrew) emailed the telegram after Mr Rowland accompanied Andrew on a taxpayer-funded trade mission to China
It also reported that Andrew used the trip to introduce a business associate to the China Investment Corporation – a giant Chinese sovereign wealth fund. ‘He called privately on the Deputy Chairman of the China Investment Corporation to introduce a British business acquaintance,’ Wood wrote.
It outlined how Andrew raised the concerns of British firms about the ‘business environment’ in China and discussed how the UK Government wanted more Chinese companies to list on the London Stock Exchange.
The cable also detailed a tetchy lunch between the Duke and Fu Ying, vice minister for foreign affairs and China’s former ambassador to the UK.
Thirsk, 54, has been fiercely loyal to the Duke for 15 years and headed his all-woman inner circle of advisers and aides dubbed ‘Andy’s Angels’. The mother of three was taken on in 2004 as his ‘office controller’ and became his private secretary – or gatekeeper – in 2012.
Charles Crawford, a former UK ambassador to Poland, said: ‘Anyone in the system, including members of the Royal Household, knows perfectly well not to share official documents outside the system – and sometimes with people within the system – unless there’s a very good reason to do it. Then they should think hard about how they share it.
‘It’s your job to be careful. The Foreign Office has the famous unnamed newspaper common sense test: if this e-document I am pressing Send on appears splashed in the newspaper, will it create a ghastly mess?
‘Someone here may have failed that simple test.’