The story that is gripping New York at the moment is the arrest of the former director of the International Monetary Fund, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, on charges of sexual assault and rape. It’s alleged he attacked a chamber maid at the high-class mid-town hotel where he was staying. He then left for Paris, but was arrested on board his flight, and brought back to New York in handcuffs. He has now been charged, resigned his post yesterday, and has been banged up in what’s described as New York’s worst prison – Rikers Island.

It’s interesting to see the different attitudes to this story. The Queen of Manhattan refuses to believe it. She talks of ‘these women’ who set men up. The office team was in jovial mood – joking about Strauss-Kahn’s reputation – and say, in low voices so our French colleagues don’t hear, that this is ‘typical behaviour’ for French men. And then there is the frankly appalling way the American media can report charges of crime – endless TV pictures of Strauss-Kahn in handcuffs – cameras in the court the day after he was arrested, showing him haggard and with a five o’clock shadow after a night in the cells. While colleagues tell me that some local media here have reported the name of the victim!

Whatever the truth of the matter, I suspect it’s going to be a long time before we get to it. Meanwhile, the IMF is busy starting the long process of appointing a replacement director. I wonder if, when selected, he (or she) can be persuaded to give Ireland a better deal on the interest on bailout loan…

« »