Johnson says his comments about United Kingdom ambassador to the U.S. were 'misrepresented'

UK police investigate Kim Darroch cables - CNN

President Donald Trump on Friday offered good wishes to Britain's former ambassador to Washington Kim Darroch, who resigned earlier this week amid a spat with the Republican president following leaked diplomatic cables.

He asked the person behind the leaks to turn themselves in and avoid wasting detectives' time, saying: "You can stop this now".

British ambassador Kim Darroch quit on Wednesday after U.S. president Donald Trump called him "stupid" and "wacky" following the publication of the confidential memos by a newspaper.

Counterterrorism police chief Neil Basu said Friday that the leak had damaged United Kingdom global relations and there was "a clear public interest" in prosecuting the perpetrator or perpetrators.

In furious verbal attacks on Darroch, Trump has described the ambassador as "wacky", "a very stupid guy" and a "pompous fool".

"The publication of leaked communications, knowing the damage they have caused or are likely to cause, may also be a criminal matter", he said.

Mr Basu also warned owners, editors and publishers of social and mainstream media not to publish leaked government documents, and to return any in their possession to their rightful owners.

"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", he tweeted.

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The criticism led the Ambassador to step down on Wednesday, saying it was "impossible" for him to continue.

The British government had opened its own inquiry into the leaks this week and noted it had involved the police to ascertain whether any documents protected by the Official Secrets Act had been shared.

"I can not think of a worse example of a heavy-handed approach by the police to attempt to curtail the role of the media as a defence against the powerful and those in authority", said Ian Murray, Executive Director of the Society of Editors. A diplomatic source told Reuters that the lack of support from Johnson during a televised debate with his rival for the premiership, foreign minister Jeremy Hunt, had also been a factor.

Meanwhile, Mr Johnson has defended his comments in the ITV debate, after he was accused by angry Tory MPs of throwing Sir Kim "under the bus".

"I wish the British ambassador well", he told reporters in Washington.

Trump did not directly address his change of tone on Friday, but said "some people just told me. he actually said very good things about me".

"He said that what somebody had relayed to him had been a factor in his resignation", Mr Johnson said.

The exposure of Ambassador Kim Darroch's confidential communications has caused a stir across the Atlantic.

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