NZ diplomat under fire for US politics tweets
A high-ranking Kiwi diplomat is in hot water after telling the US Democratic Party to “get your shit together or we will all die”.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade has confirmed it is taking “appropriate action” against Caroline Beresford, New Zealand’s deputy head of mission to the United States, following her now-deleted posts on Twitter.
In response to a tweet by US politics website The Hill, outlining the potential of a Bernie Sanders-Elizabeth Warren presidential ticket to take on Trump at the 2020 election, Beresford took issue with a suggestion that the pair could “win big”.
“No it couldn’t. Please get your shit together or we will all die,” she said, in what appears to be a reference to concerns about the administration of current US President and Republican Donald Trump.
In other tweets, also deleted later, Beresford said Democrats had “learned nothing”, and added: “If this is what they have against Trump we should be planning for the eight years.”
In an email to Newsroom, Beresford confirmed that she was the author of the tweets.
“Yes I did send those tweets and realised very quickly that they were inappropriate, which is why I deleted them.”
She appears to have "locked" her Twitter account since being contacted.
An MFAT spokeswoman said the ministry was aware of Beresford’s comments and “[did] not in any way endorse the content or tone of the tweets, which we note have now been deleted”.
The spokeswoman said MFAT’s code of conduct and social media guidelines set clear expectations of staff when making public comment, including the maintenance of political neutrality and care in expressing personal opinion.
“These expectations were not met in this instance. The ministry will be making this clear to the staff member concerned and taking appropriate action.”
Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters said he was happy with his ministry’s response, while a spokeswoman for the US Embassy in Wellington told Newsroom : “We work closely with our hardworking, professional New Zealand counterparts on a daily basis and hold them in the highest regard.”
In a fortuitous series of events, it was Beresford’s chocolate Labrador who helped to secure a phone call between newly elected US President Donald Trump and then-Prime Minister Bill English after the 2016 election.
In a New York Times article and subsequent podcast, American lobbyist Robert Stryk said he was smoking a cigar on the patio of the Four Seasons Hotel in Washington when he was approached by Beresford’s dog.
"She [Beresford] said she couldn't get a phone call set up between Bill English and Donald Trump, and this is one of our closest allies," said Stryk.
Stryk put the New Zealand Embassy in touch with someone who had Trump’s details and reportedly took on a lobbying role for the New Zealand government.