Remember that fleeting row about the leaked record of conversation between SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon and the French Ambassador that amused the UK general election campaign for at least ten minutes?

First it wasn’t even a memo at all – it was a fiendish ZINOVIEV MEMO INVENTED BY MI5 aimed at discrediting someone or other to thwart Scottish independence, or something. Thanks for this insight, Craig Murray:

It seems to me the overwhelming probability (sic) is that this document, whether it purports to be a FCO or Scottish Office document, was originated by the Security Services, possibly with the active collusion of someone in the Scottish Office, or equally possibly without their knowledge. Whatever it purported to be, it never entered the normal civil service distribution systems, as the FCO would have a copy, and it would have raised alarm bells all over the place as seriously weird and improbable. It is in that sense a fake, even if it were physically produced inside the Scottish Office. Its purpose was to be leaked to the media and influence the election.

Then it was maybe a real memo (why would N Sturgeon demand a full enquiry into the leaked memo if there was no leaked memo?) but what it said was not true and therefore written some sort of provocation. They never said what the memo said they said!

Ho hum. Here’s what I surmised when the row broke out:

Hence this is almost certainly a record of a conversation between M Coffinier and someone somewhere high (and well-disposed to the French CG) in the Scottish system. This is in fact obvious from the substance – the bulk of the memo as in the Telegraph is all about nuts and bolts of Scotland/France/EU business as pursued by the French ambassador on her first visit to Scotland as such, with the Sturgeon/Miliband passage added as a general amusing thought towards the end.

As it turns out, an almost perfect analysis. The official investigation of the leak shows (a) that the document was real (not that anyone sane ever doubted that), and (b) how it was leaked from the Scottish Office by the absurd LibDem MP Alistair Carmichael, now exposed as an explicit liar. He leaked the memo via his SpAd ‘in the public interest’, namely his own interest in embarrassing the SNP and extracting a few more votes from the hapless inhabitants of Orkney and Shetland. To add to the general happiness his exposure creates, we remember that Craig Murray himself was a LibDem MP wannabe before even the SNP rejected him as a potential candidate. One big happy family.

Note the banality of how this stupidity was discovered. Our Heroic Surveillance State ran a few simple mobile phone checks on who had talked to the Daily Telegraph reporter concerned and lo!, the number of Mr Carmichael’s ‘special adviser’ popped up. Done.

Note too this:

The memo followed a discussion between a civil servant, who has not been named, and the French Consul-General about a meeting Sturgeon had with Sylvie Bermann, the French Ambassador to the UK. The Cabinet Office report says the civil servant “believed that the memo was an accurate record of the conversation that took place between him and the French Consul General” but pointed out that he had already highlighted that it could have been “lost in translation”.

The Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Haywood concluded that there was no reason to doubt that the civil servant recorded accurately what he thought he had heard. He also said there was no evidence of any political motivation or “dirty tricks.”

As I said previously:

So it strikes me as highly likely that NS and the ambassador had a frank word about the way the election would unfold and how NS would respond to the rival possibilities of Cameron/Miliband winning. Why wouldn’t they? Two senior professionals doing their jobs. Therefore the CG mentioned this on the telephone in his friendly debriefing as one of the main points of interest at the meeting.

But (as I also noted in my first posting) it is ALSO possible that the HSB did NOT note down completely accurately what the French CG said (ie missing a gloss or an emphasis or even getting the basic thought wrong) EVEN IF the conversation was being written up in good faith. And in fact the HSB thought that this part was a bit strange, so made a caveat in the record itself!

Still, credit where it’s due. Craig Murray’s site attracts a huge following precisely because he combines energy, real insight and utter nonsense in such a potent brew. Always a pleasure to peruse the comments:

Oh my, Fletcher School foreign agent CHARLES CRAWFORD lends his flyweight reputation to the authenticity debate. That proves it was the knuckledraggers. Their clever ruse obscured what the Scottish splittists really want …

CHARLES CRAWFORD, old man Gullion’s Western-Oriented Gentleman, points out that the document is real, just full of crap …

At least we don’t have a monopoly in engaging in untrue, self-promoting, mischievous drivel, Charles Crawford …

“Why, then, should people fall over themselves to believe Craig’s version of events and damn Charles’s ?” Because Crawford is a mendacious stooge of the establishment, an apologist for torture, and does not act in good faith. His heart – if he has one – is not in the right place. The opposite of all this can be said for CM. Therefore, I am far more inclined to believe CM’s version.

Note that the troll found it necessary to repeat the content of the Crawford smear against Craig, not dissimilar from the original FCO muck that was thrown at Craig. The troll normally creeps around Craig but not this time. The knives are out.

The semantic twists and turns of Mr Crawford and his groupie Habb, full as they are with ifs, buts and conjecture are revealing inasmuch as they offer not a single shred of evidence that the claim by the UK ‘s equivalent of the Chinese People’s Daily (The Daily Telegraph) on this story has any foundation or is in any way congruent with reality. What their contributions so far do offer evidence of is the sheer desperation on their part of wanting it to be true. Pitiful really. You would think the Enlightenment never happened …

And so on!

This one is a case-study in how different senior people use language more or less honestly to deny or confuse or avoid a news story in which they are involved, and where a written record of what they said is close enough to be embarrassing. But all in all, basically I was close to 100% right. As usual, the truth is the best story.