The Metropolitan Police has launched a criminal investigation into the alleged leak of diplomatic emails from Kim Darroch, the UK's ambassador in the U.S., where he called American President Donald Trump's administration "inept, insecure and incompetent", the media reported on Saturday.
The May 2018 memo was said to have been written by Sir Kim Darroch after a visit to the USA by Boris Johnson, then foreign secretary and now frontrunner for the Tory leadership, who was making a final attempt to keep America in the deal.
Back in 2015, the US, China, Britain, France, Russia and Germany signed a deal with Iran to limit its nuclear programme in exchange for a partial removal of global economic sanctions, with then-US president Barrack Obama helping broker the arrangement between Tehran and the West.
In the cables, which were first published by the Mail on Sunday newspaper on 7 June, Sir Kim Darroch had described the US President as "inept", "insecure", and "incompetent" in messages sent to London, adding that Trump was "uniquely dysfunctional and his career could end in disgrace".
The Metropolitan Police Counter Terrorism Command is investigating the leak of private memos written by Britain's ambassador to the United States as a possible breach of the Official Secrets Act.
Osborne described Basu's statement as "ill-advised", saying: "If I were the Metropolitan Police commissioner, and I wanted to maintain my credibility and the credibility of my force, I would quickly distance myself from this very stupid and ill-advised statement from a junior officer, who doesn't appear to understand much about press freedom".
Darroch's defenders said his critical memos showed he was doing his job by providing candid assessments, as diplomats are expected to do, but he said the controversy had made it impossible to fulfill his duties.
At the same time, Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu urged journalists in possession of leaked Government documents to return them, warning any further publication from the dispatches cables could result in prosecution.
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"Freedom of the press is vital, of course".
Basu insisted on Saturday the police had "no intention of seeking to prevent editors from publishing stories in the public interest".
The White House responded by refusing to deal with him, and Trump branded the ambassador a "pompous fool" in a Twitter fusillade.
But he went on to say the publication of the documents could constitute a criminal offence "and one that carries no public interest defence".
"We have a duty to prevent as well as detect crime and the previous statement was meant to alert to the risk of breaching the OSA", he said.
A UK Foreign Office spokesman told CNN on Saturday that whoever leaked the cables "should face the consequences of their actions".
The Society of Editors, which represents more than 400 media executives, said that the Met's initial warning demonstrated a "truly worrying lack of understanding of how a free press works in a liberal democracy".