I’ve always been a great admirer of the Royal Institute of International Affairs (RIIA) otherwise known as Chatham House. And I’ve always trusted colleagues to respect any confidential briefings disclosed under the Chatham House Rule (there’s only one by the way), which states that:
“When a meeting, or part thereof, is held under the Chatham House Rule, participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s), nor that of any other participant, may be revealed”.
Perhaps rather naively I’ve always assumed that even journalists respected this world-famous rule.
So my eyebrows were raised when my instructors on a recent media training course emphasised that “There’s no such thing as off the record”. “Surely that doesn’t apply to an exchange carried out under the Chatham House Rule? “ I asked. “No” they replied “the story always comes first”.
I’ll certainly be more careful in future.