If there’s one thing you would think politicians would have learned to be careful around by now, it’s a microphone.
Yet, time after time, MPs and even world leaders get caught out when they think no one can hear them.
From former US president Ronald Reagan’s bizarre joke to bomb Russia and Gordon Brown’s throwaway insult that helped him lose a general election, there are plenty of cautionary tales recorded for posterity.
Education secretary Gillian Keegan is the latest to join their infamous ranks after she was caught on camera accusing colleagues of sitting “on their arse” as she faces increasing pressure about the government’s response to the Raac concrete scandal.
After an interview with ITV News on Monday, she was filmed asking: “Does anyone ever say ‘you know what, you’ve done a f****** good job because everyone else has sat on their arse and done nothing?”
We’ve taken a look back at some the most notorious hot-mic moments which have landed the great and the good in hot water over the years.
Obama and Sarkozy caught complaining about Netanyahu
President Barack Obama and the former French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, were caught criticising another world leader during a private conversation at the G20 summit in November 2011.
Speaking of Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Sarkozy told Obama: “I can’t stand him. He’s a liar,” according to French website Arret sur Images.
Obama is reported to have replied: “You’re tired of him; what about me? I have to deal with him every day.”
Neither leader appeared to be aware their microphones had already been turned on ahead of a press conference, allowing journalists to overhear their conversation.
David Cameron reveals the Queen “purred down the line”
An embarrassed David Cameron was forced to apologise to the Queen after revealing her reaction to the Scottish referendum result to New York’s Mayor.
The PM had told Bloomberg: “The definition of relief is being the prime minister of the United Kingdom and ringing the Queen and saying: ‘It’s alright, it’s OK.’ That was something. She purred down the line.”
He later told the Andrew Marr Show on BBC1 that he felt “extremely sorry and very embarrassed” after confirming that the Queen had wanted Scotland to remain part of the UK, despite her neutral stance.
Gordon Brown on ‘bigoted woman’
With former Prime Minister Gordon Brown facing dismal prospects ahead of the 2010 general election, he participated in a walkaround of Rochdale just a week before the public were due to cast their votes.
Speaking to Gillian Duffy, a 66-year-old pensioner, she berated Brown and informed him she was now ashamed to admit she was a Labour supporter.
Despite conversing politely with her on cameras, Brown drove away unaware that his microphone was still on.
“That was a disaster. They should never have put me with that woman. Ridiculous…bigoted woman,” he told his advisers. While he issued a public apology, he went on to lose the general election to David Cameron.
David Cameron calls two countries “fantastically corrupt”
During a conversation with the Queen at Buckingham Palace to celebrate her 90th birthday, then-Prime Minister Mr Cameron was overheard criticising two nations.
We’ve got some leaders of some fantastically corrupt countries coming to Britain... Nigeria and Afghanistan, possibly the two most corrupt countries in the world,” he was overheard saying.
He was referring to an anti-corruption summit taking place in London.
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari said he was “shocked” by the comments while a senior Afghan official said the characterisation was “unfair”.
Prince Charles on BBC royal correspondent
It’s not just political figures whose candid comments have been caught unawares, but royalty too.
During a skiing holiday in Switzerland in 2005 with his sons Prince Harry and Prince William, the future King Charles was overheard muttering under his breath during a photocall.
Taking issue with a question from veteran BBC royal correspondent Nicholas Witchell, he told his sons: “Bloody people. I can’t bear that man. He’s so awful, he really is.”
Jacques Chirac on Britain’s “bad cuisine”
The former French President Jacques Chirac was keen for his nation to host the 2012 Olympic Games, and decided to attack a bizarre feature of his British competitor.
“The only thing that they have ever done for European agriculture is mad cow disease,” he told Russian President Vladimir Putin and then-German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder. “You cannot trust people who have such bad cuisine.”
While his comments prompted controversy amongst the British tabloids, Chirac was left disappointed as London stole the victory to host the famous sports competition.
Ronald Reagan on ‘bombing’ Russia
In what was one of the most dramatic throwaway comments during the Cold War, President Ronald Reagan accidentally announced a bombing campaign against Russia.
During a sound check shortly before his weekly radio address in August 1984, he announced to his listeners: “My fellow Americans, I’m pleased to tell you today that I have signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever.
“We begin bombing in five minutes.”
While it was not aired live, it was later leaked to the press and provoked criticism from the Soviet Union and his Democratic opponent for the 1984 election.