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Duke told to steer clear of policy

The Duke of York has been warned to steer clear of Government policy after criticising the Serious Fraud Office investigation into BAE Systems' Al-Yamamah arms deal.

Andrew came under fire after a leaked document showed he criticised France and America and condemned "idiotic" anti-corruption investigators in his role as UK trade ambassador.

US ambassador Tatiana Gfoeller described Andrew boasting "cockily" about British influence during an expletive-laden discussion with business leaders in Kyrgyzstan in 2008.

Her report of the meeting came in a confidential diplomatic cable contained in a tranche of more than 250,000 secret documents obtained by whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks.

Business Secretary Vince Cable stressed that anti-corruption policy had nothing to do with Andrew and that it would be "helpful" if he kept his counsel on Government matters.

"He is not a Government appointee. He voluntarily goes around the world trying to help British companies promote exports and jobs in Britain," Mr Cable told Sky news.

"I value that. I've seen him in action and he does a very good job.

"I would just make it absolutely clear that we regard bribery overseas as illegal and unacceptable. That is not a matter for Prince Andrew, that's a matter for the Government.

"We certainly don't condone overseas bribery and indeed the legislation has recently been toughened."

He added: "It would be helpful not to comment on policy matters of that kind, but his contribution is a very positive one and I want to encourage him to continue to make it."

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