FORTY years ago, I was introduced to the Foreign Office press chief as The Sun’s new Political Editor.
The pin-striped flunkey did not disguise his contempt for tabloid journalists.
Fast forward ten years and it was a different story when FCO high-flier Christopher Meyer was appointed spokesman for sleaze-engulfed PM John Major.
Within three years, he was fast-tracked as HM Ambassador to Bonn, a post he was unsure about accepting.
Asked what other path he might choose, he told me: “I’d like to do what you’re doing”
It was a mark of the lifelong bond between Sir Christopher and parliamentary journalists which lasted until his death from a stroke on Wednesday, aged 78.
Lobby “reptiles” past and present will mourn the loss of a friend.
Sir Christopher fell in love with newspapers as a Russian-speaking diplomat in Moscow, helping UK journalists avoid Kremlin censors by opening the embassy hotline to London.
He wore a perpetual smile and bright red socks, hence his Twitter ID, @SirSocks.
While other spokesmen kept a lid on stories. Christopher turned them into headlines.
On a trip to Beijing, we discovered Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping had placed a spittoon near Margaret Thatcher’s feet — and used it repeatedly through their talks. It made the front pages.
Sir Christopher’s nose for a good story catapulted him to the dizzy heights as “Our Man in Washington” during the sex scandal years of Bill Clinton, 9/11 and George W Bush’s war in Iraq.
Sir Christopher was at the heart of negotiations leading up to the invasion of Iraq — until he was brutally excluded by Tony Blair henchman Alastair Campbell.
Back in civvy street, he blamed Blair for giving Bush a “blank cheque” on military support.
His calls for a secure post-war Iraq administration had been swept aside.
The son of a Spitfire pilot, he later forged a career as a documentary-maker and broadcaster on growing Chinese and Russian belligerence.
His wife Catherine, ennobled in her own right for her charity work, was with Sir Christopher at their French home when he died.