November 1st, 2012

Hague’s Taxpayer Funded Snake Stuffing

When Guido heard that William Hague had stuffed a 20-foot anaconda in the Foreign Office, he just had to find out how much the taxpayer was being billed. The answer is an eye-watering £10,000. But what followed was perhaps the greatest FOI response of all time:

“‘Albert’ the anaconda was allegedly presented by a Bishop, in what is now Guyana, to the Colonial Secretary in the 19th century – exact names and dates are unknown. However, he appears in a photo from circa 1892, which means he has been in the FCO for at least 120 years. As a gift to the FCO, Albert is therefore regarded as an FCO asset. As such, the FCO is obliged to maintain its assets, and the work on ‘Albert’ was essential maintenance. It is believed that ‘Albert’ was first re-stuffed in the 1960s or 1970s, but there are no records of how much it cost on that occasion. Certainly no significant maintenance has been carried out on him in the last 40-50 years. ‘Albert’ was never housed in a glass case, as is commonly believed. In moving him from his suspended position in the Ansell Library (a separate Library area to the old Home Office Library referenced above) to facilitate planned refurbishment to the area it was observed he was in poor condition. A decision was taken to use this opportunity to carry out a refurbishment to ‘Albert’ including a safety check on the suspension fittings. The cost of the conservation and restoration work on ‘Albert’ was £10,000. The work was undertaken by the Conservation Team at the Natural History Museum, over a 5-week period, from 21 May to 26 June 2012. As nothing was known about previous work done on ‘Albert’, the conversation team at the NHM needed to use x-ray CT scanning, which is a costly procedure that required extensive data processing and a specialist to do the analysis. Also, the level of detailed, delicate work in the restoration involved an intensive amount of care and attention from highly trained staff.”

Austerity, what austerity?


  1. 1
  2. 2
    Tom Tomos says:

    A trousered snake.


    • 132
      Anonymous says:

      austerity…what austerity.
      Global personal which run 6,000 dating websites admits to setting up fake profiles in order to lure the emotionally needy, to part with their hard earned roubles.

      the same emotionally needy who at young age fell prey to Jimmy saville.
      why be emotionally needy?


  3. 3
    Brown out and pay me damages says:

    A slippery snake. How apt!


    • 25
      Keeper of the Privy says:

      THere are many snakes left in Westminster that could all do with stuffing. No need to hange them up after though.


  4. 4
    Doktorb says:

    Any jokes about William Hague, a snake, and getting a stuffing, should be sent elsewhere.


  5. 5
    Anonymous says:

    Couldn’t they have chucked it in the bin?


    • 24
      Selohesra says:

      That would be a waste – better to use as draft excluder for very big door. It would demonstrate their green credentials


  6. 6
    Fatso watson watch says:

    Whats vaz doing hanging from the ceiling


  7. 7
    Steve Miliband says:

    £10K – it just doesn’t adder up


  8. 8
    Simon B says:

    Austerity for us plebs, same old crap from the “elite”.


  9. 8
    CityBlue says:

    Hague stuffed an anaconda? When he had the gorgeous Ffion to gome to? Extraordinary behaviour.


  10. 10
    John says:

    At least Torys waste money on nice right-wing things like re-stuffing imperial era snake-gifts.


  11. 12
    Broadsword calling Danny Boy says:


    I feared the worst when I saw the words William Hague and stuffed.

    Does he pass for rough trade with his Cabinet colleagues?


  12. 13
    Last Quango says:

    I hate snakes and why are all the bookshelves empty?


    • 31
      Selohesra says:

      Would you put books up there with a bloody big snake nearby?


    • 79
      Expat Geordie says:

      Didn’t Labour sell off the FCO Library as it reminded them of Britain’s past glories, and no socialist wants to be reminded of that. The same way as they closed down the FCO Language School as obviously you don’t want your diplomats speaking the local lingo.

      There is a line in the 1943 film “The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp” where two German officers enter the British Embassy in Berlin (circa 1901) and ask the receptionist, in German, if he speaks German. The receptionist replies, in German “Yes, of course.” It was reported a few years ago that only two of the forty odd staff at the British Embassy in Kabul could speak Dari of Pashto. Thanks comrades.


      • 100
        Expat Geordie says:

        Dari OR Pashto.


      • 129
        BoaTie of the BoaTongs says:

        There is a part in “The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp” where a German officer says:

        “You know that, after the war, we had very bad years in Germany. We got poorer and poorer. Every day retired officers or schoolteachers were caught shoplifting. Money lost its value, the price of everything rose except of human beings. We read in the newspapers that the after-war years were bad everywhere, that crime was increasing and that honest citizens were having a hard job to put the gangsters in jail. Well in Germany, the gangsters finally succeeded in putting the honest citizens in jail”

        Sounds like those struggling due to EU imposed austerity and protesting in Spain right now!


        • 133
          Expat Geordie says:

          Thank you, I remember that bit well. I am surprised that the film was made at all, and am not surprised that Churchill tried to ban it, especially since we were at war at the time. It was a very pro-German film, but pro the German people, and pro German civilisation, as opposed to Nazi civilisation.

          I’m particularly struck by the section in 1919 where Theo, the officer that you quoted, is invited to dinner by Clive before he is repatriated and a large number of the dinner guests tell him the same thing – we want to be friends, we want to TRADE with Germany, and if we trade with each other it will be good for both of us.


  13. 14

    What a waste of money.

    I’d rather stuff my fat face any day.

    That amount of money would keep me in food for a month!


  14. 16
    Relieved says:

    When Guido heard that William Hague had stuffed…

    I thought

    Oh no…OMG Are we going to get another shower of shit…?

    To match Jimmy Soapville?

    It’s can’t get much worse at the moment except if we have some zoophilia…or cannibalism perhaps…


  15. 17
    David Eyles says:

    Yes but note how Albert is suspended next to all those empty library shelves. The FCO library was once a magnificent collection, but all was sold under the expert guidance of one D Milliband. At least Albert has been saved.


  16. 18
    Tax payer says:

    It seems like it wasn’t only the snake that got stuffed.


  17. 21
    The Golem says:

    Sad that Albert went to the happy hunting ground so long ago, he could have eaten Nick Clegg in Cabinet and done us all a favour.


  18. 22
    Beast says:

    They could have just hung mandelson and saved ten grand


  19. 23
    I don't need no doctor says:

    Dianne Abbott and Emily Thornberry are to be the front row props on labour’s new all women rugby team.


  20. 26
    Moussa Koussa Mark 1 says:

    FOI reply is actually trying to justify the £10K…Unbelievable

    The last Gov were winding down the foreign office…it is pretty pointless post. EU covered by Europe minister, International Development and home office remits cover many overseas issues.

    It seems that Billy Boy Hague likes the foreign office, cushy number, lots of travel ( to cover lack of off spring ) , and spending tax payers money on sh*ite


  21. 28
    Anonymous says:

    This website has become piss poor over the last year or so. Seriously, it’s either trivial beyond words or so coated in bile that it’s bad for one’s health reading it.


  22. 29
    I don't need no doctor says:

    New Labour has now been officially replaced by Cynical Hypocritical Labour.


  23. 29
    Moussa Koussa Mark 1 says:

    FOI reply is actually trying to justify the £10K…Unbelievable

    The last Gov were winding down the foreign office…it is pretty pointless post. EU covered by Europe minister, International Development and home office remits cover many overseas issues.

    It seems that Bil*ly Boy Ha*gue likes the foreign office, cushy number, lots of travel ( to cover lack of off spring ) , and spending tax payers money on sh*ite


    • 52
      Sandra in Accounts says:

      No doubt you took advantage of the Muslim prayer area in Ed Balls office after he blew £3 million quid to turn an office of state into a chillaxed Islamic Bauhaus-esque nightmare?


  24. 35
    Beast says:


    I didnt know that “rent” was that expensive

    specialy proportioned anaconda dick
    14 Pints would love that


  25. 36
    JuliaM says:

    John Prescott wants to know if anyone will pass him Anna Conda’s phone number.


  26. 38
    Beast says:

    Another ten grand hissed away by useless politicians


  27. 39
    Joss Ayinglike says:

    I’d pay £ 10,000 to have Little Johnny B13 COW stuffed rigid and hung from the ceiling.


  28. 43
    Disco Biscuit says:

    And we thought it was Mandelson who liked lengthy Latin Americans…!


  29. 44
    William Hague at McKinsey says:


  30. 48
    Mornington Crescent says:

    Those now-empty bookshelves were once stuffed with fascinating books, making up the priceless FO Library. The library was broken up and flogged off – an act that could be described as the FO’s kr’istall’nact – by… one D. Miliband. Utter, utter bastard.

    From Hague’s speech just over a year ago:
    “It is ironic that the only object to survive the gutting of the library is a one hundred year old twenty-foot stuffed anaconda known as Albert, who remains suspended over the empty bookshelves, while the books from the period when such an unusual foreign gift found its way into the Foreign Office have been dismantled around it, and can never be reassembled. To my mind the fate of the FCO library is emblematic of a gradual hollowing out of the qualities that made the FCO one of our great institutions.”

    Full speech here, made just over a year ago:

    Don’t bash Hague for this one, Guido; it’s his predecessor who should be strung up like Albert.


    • 77
      Gonk II says:

      What an incredible act of vandalism !


    • 92
      Col Nut says:

      Shows what a tosser is Miliband . He must have taken his cue from Hitler’s Germany.


    • 96
      bergen says:

      One of the very few positive things to be said about Ed is that he was preferable from his vile, self-obsessed, self-entitled prat of a brother who was just about the worst Foreign Secretary since the 30’s.Remember the pig’s arse of a trip the clown made to India? Offended everyone.


      • 148
        Trahison des Clercs says:

        Arthur George Bottomley, Baron Bottomley, OBE, PC Wilson’s Foreign Secretary – arrived in The Gambia saying how pleased was he to be in Zambia


    • 102
      Red Dawn says:

      British history has to be destroyed comrade. Only then will the British grasp their new identity as citizens of the EUSSR.


    • 130
      fatbob says:

      How many libraries have closed in the last two years, ? So afew posh books for posh boys counts forfuck all up here,we burn our books to heat our gruel.


  31. 49
    xenu says:

    I’m happy with this restoration; lovely old object and they could spend it on much worse things


  32. 50
    Sandra in Accounts says:

    Taxpayers on the NHS could only dream of such prompt & extensive expertise & treatment.

    This, like Ed Balls £3 million office upgrade before he got kicked out, is indicative of the political elites utter contempt for the taxpayer & OUR money.


    • 81
      ÁC1 says:

      The NHS is run for the benefit of the staff, not for the patients. That’s why they want to keep it. Not having customers makes it much easier to hide failure.


  33. 51
    William Hague says:

    Double hotel rooms don’t come cheap.


  34. 55
    We're Totally Fooked if Dave remains says:

    Boris — Your Country Needs You — Do a Brutus on Dave forthwith, and an Edward II on Hague immediately afterwards.


  35. 56
    Well said that man. says:

    Bill Cash on working with David Cameron “I dwell amid pinheaded weasels who know only timid, the generic and the abacus.”


  36. 58
    George Gideon Oliver Osborne says:

    I haven’t got a twitter account, so I just carry around a megaphone to announce what I’m doing at random times.

    I’ve got three followers so far, but I think two are cops.


  37. 61
    Ophidiophile says:

    How much do the 648 snakes in the House of Commons cost us?


  38. 62
    Junior Asprin says:

    Hmmmmm…………..Bishop……Prince Albert……..Hague…hmmmm.


    • 68
      Beast says:

      Dont bash the Bishop


    • 82
      Sparkler says:

      I have just had to take another one of my Beta-Blocker blood pressure tablets after reading the news that a dead snake gets a CT scan and a £10,000 pound makeover.


    • 113
      Tay King-dePisse says:

      “How about I give you a 20-ft anaconda?”, said the Bishop to the Secretary.
      No word on whether he had also offered it to the actress the same way.


  39. 65
    Rudolph says:

    “…… the conversation team at the NHM needed to use x-ray CT scanning,”
    Presumably to give them a conversation topic.


  40. 67
    Bullshitting Bullying Cokeheads says:

    What tripe!


  41. 70
    Jack Daw says:

    Good for a laugh but I don’t begrudge Hague or FCO their £10k stuffed snake. What I do find shocking is the UK’s social security bill of around £160 billion and growing-a lot of it funding wasters both home grown and imported.


  42. 73
    GloryTory says:

    No stuffed Stags? What is this world coming too?


  43. 83
    Chris Mayers Parliamentry aids says:

    Two timing bitch !
    he usually stuffs me with his snake


  44. 84
    Anonymous says:

    Oh for heavens sake get a life. This is a non story of epic proportions and shouldn’t even be given the Internet space.


  45. 86
    A request to righties says:

    If Obama wins next week, I do hope you righties don’t revert to form and have him killed. You tend to do that kind of thing when your side don’t get in.


    • 95
      Sandra in Accounts says:


      Murder & violence are the domain of the left – Oswald shot kennedy on the orders of KGB Stalinists.

      Personally, I like the way Obama is changing the rules of engagement with the West’s enemies.

      Even Great Britain is now increasing its drone squadrons for remote engagement with enemies of our gracious Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

      I know this policy of remote engagement is working because I heard a loud a lefties bleating about it on BBC Radio 4 this week, & using taxpayer money to fight the policy through the courts.

      But President Obama thinks it is the right thing to do, so that should be enough for you fellow travellers.

      Have a nice day.


  46. 90
    stevetierneyuk says:

    I don’t think I have any problem with this. Clearly its a historic item and we are a country with a rich and interesting history. It was in no individual’s benefit to re-stuff the snake – so as long as it doesn’t turn out that somebody’s cousin happens to be a snake-stuffer, or whatever, this is fine by me. It needed doing and if it hadn’t been done we’d have thrown away an interesting and unique bit of our heritage. Snake or no snake.


  47. 93
    Captain Derp says:

    Well, this is unbelievable. And, by unbelievable, I mean entirely predictable. When in Rome.


  48. 94
    Ex Ah! Monika says:

    Three former Penn State administrators were charged on Thursday with conspiring to cover up the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal.

    Although THEY have prison overcrowding …..60 years!

    Now this is one Americanism we could import.


  49. 98
    Enemy of the State says:

    Perfect for the nest of snakes in the Foreign Offhissssssss


  50. 106
    AveubenBorisised? says:

    What’s the fuss about?
    If it’s OK with Baldy……its tickety boo with me.

    You owe me Baldy.


  51. 109
    Ian E says:

    Who mentioned a snake-in-the-ass?


  52. 117
    Anonymous says:

    Why are they selling Ted Heath’s house?


  53. 118
    Rupert my Hero says:

    OK, so how much to Stuff and Mount The Wuss, then suspend him from the ceiling. or Mount then Stuff, or just Stuff ( Lowest Cost ), we leave the Suspension from the Wooden Beams, to you imagination.


  54. 119
    Anglicanus Ortus says:

    Repairing the building’s historical artefacts held in trust for the nation? Ridiculous! Next thing you know, they’ll be fixing broken windows and putting the heating on when the temperature outside is still above zero!


  55. 120
    Ffion says:

    I can assure you that William’s snake is much sorter than reported.


  56. 123
    Yvonne from the Colliers Arms Clydach says:

    Having taken a special interest in our William’s parliamentary expenses over the last few years this little story hardly surprises me .


  57. 131
    Anonymous says:

    Having wasted all that taxpayer money shouldn’t it be presented to someone in Brussels/


  58. 135
    Greg Dyke says:

    Jimmy Savile was hideously white.


  59. 138
    yakima canutt says:

    on so many levels.
    from the FOI twat who probably took most of the morning to write the reply,
    to an FCO who only want to live in the past.

    so don’t be surprised when Venezuela or wherever does an Elgin Marbles claim on squidgy Albert.

    Great sleuthing Guido, once the system exposes itself as perpetually ridiculous, it falls. The more of these snippets, the merrier.


  60. 139
  61. 140
    Anna Conda says:

    Jesus fucking wept.
    Is there no end to incompetent buffoons wasting our tax pounds?


  62. 141
    Tom Catesby says:

    £10K! What do those *ucking snakes at the F.O. think they are throwing our money at, another example of the whitehall village not living in the real world.


  63. 142
    The Impartial observer says:

    Shame no one swapped it for Mandelson at birth. Wouldn’t have been noticed. One reptile looks very much like another.


  64. 144
    Grimy Miner says:

    £10k to stuff a snake?
    How fucking much do broomshanks cost in London?


    • 145
      Grimy Miner says:

      and what’s it stuffed with, £10 notes?


      • 150
        It's as dead as a parrot says:

        I reckon 3 bags of polystyrene beans about £1 wholesale should be enough to stuff a 20ft snake.

        And what was the point of paying for private healthcare to give it a CT Scan? The fucking thing is dead for fucks sake.


        • 152
          nellnewman says:

          Well I’ll admit that’s a bit offensive given that YoungNells is really poorly with a possible tummy growth. Her NHS consultant has ordered an urgent scan and it has taken us more than 10 days to get one. She’ll have it tomorrow and we expect it will take at least 14 days for the result to reach her consultant before he can decide what to do .

          Obviously snakes are more important than children!


  65. 147
    Anonymous says:

    The Foreign Office have a mousecatcher and clock winder on their staff! (excuse the pun but I’m not winding you up either)


  66. 149
    Chris Myers says:

    I can confirm that William’s trouser snake is indeed a big one.


    • 151
      nellnewman says:

      There are bigger snakes called georgerobertson, bliar and gordonbrown . bliar of course put out a DNotice to protect them from allegations regarding children . Why was that?


  67. 158
    Anonymous says:

    No doubt the FCO will use a foreign contractor to restuff the Snake.
    Perhaps they could sponsor an Anaconda at Regents Park Zoo and then use that as an incentive to further reduce departmental Costs?


  68. 159
    Keith Sisman says:

    Common sense says it should have been put in storage until the austerity measures are lifted. Then, does common sense work with politicians?


  69. 161
    Anonymous says:

    I could have done it through some contacts for £500


  70. 162
    Andrew says:

    Guido, there are times and this is one of them when you sound like a cross between Ken Livingstone and Caroline Lucas – a wet-blanket, a miserabllist, a fun-hater, a killjoy.

    Lighten up.


  71. 164
    czwienk says:

    what a suprise of costs. But aren’t Alberts costs effortable? Please imagine restaurations of elephants or crocodiles?


  72. 165
    Fiona Hague says:

    Iv not see his trouser ‘snake’ for years.


  73. 166

    I fail to see how Albert can be considered an asset, when it’s been hidden from the public for 120 years?

    For a government that considers the old and sick, ‘useless eaters’ (New World Order speak) and pleads poverty, while paying bungs of millions of pounds abroad, and to the EU, austerity only applies to us, Plebs.


    • 169
      Andrew says:

      I don’t like this government and I dislike it only marginally less than the bunch befreo.

      But where did any Minister in either of them describe the old and sick as “useless eaters”?


  74. 167
    Ehtch says:

    Bury it. I would come to a funeral for an old snake! : )


  75. 170
    Anthony Spencer says:

    I support the expenditure on this. Snake. It is a valuable piece of history which should be preserved for the nation


  76. 171
    Pinstriped Chancer says:

    Leave the snake alone. Unbelievably the FCO employ more staff now than at the very height of Empire.


  77. 172

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