Communication skills in the workplace | Free Business English Course online

“Error of Judgement”: An Example of Bad Business Communications for a Buzzword-Reliant Mayor

The mayor of Blackburn in Northern England is the latest public figure to suffer from one of Covid-19’s most clear and pernicious effects: errors and lapses of judgement. 

Iftakhar Hussain, a Labour councillor for the Bastwell area of Blackburn, this week resigned and offered his “deepest apologies” for what he called a “momentary lapse of judgment” related to attending a wedding last Saturday, according to the Guardian

 But was it a lapse of judgement? Was it momentary? Or was it something else perhaps? 

Curiously, there have been a lot of “errors of judgement” related to Covid-19. One might even wonder whether such errors are a symptom of the pandemic. 

 Or has “error of judgement” become merely a buzzword which no longer involves judgement or errors of it, but rather, something else?

Somebody was polling LinkedIn the other day about buzzwords, and which ones caused the most offence. I should have said “error” or “lapse of judgement,” especially those said to be “momentary.”

 Hussain has not been the only one to stray into erroneous judgement related to lockdown. Back in May, Professor Neil Ferguson quit as a government adviser on coronavirus after admitting an "error of judgement.” The Telegraph reported that a woman he was said to be in a relationship with visited his home in lockdown. Not sure how he managed to get confused as he was reportedly instrumental in drawing up the lockdown rules.

When Dominic Cummings, the prime minister’s advisor, was discovered to have travelled more than 200 miles to see his family during lockdown, much debate followed about whether he had made an “error of judgement.” In this case, none was admitted. 

I was getting a bit blasé about these errors and lapses of judgement related to breaking lockdown rules. Until Hussain came along and added “momentary” to the mix. Now that just insults my intelligence.


I do not know about anyone else, but I always RSVP before going to a wedding. Failure to do so would be bad manners. It would also be inconvenient for the hosts. Otherwise, how could they prepare enough food and drink for my needs? Perhaps others would have to go without so as not to deprive me of caviar and champagne.

During the past year, RSVPing has been much more important than ever because of the limited numbers of people allowed to attend wedding celebrations. Showing up unannounced might cause the wedding party to exceed legal numbers, and lead to the newlyweds receiving a fine just because of a guest’s failure to think ahead.

 As Hussain has not admitted to rudeness by failing to RSVP, I assume he did RSVP at least a day in advance. 

 And how does Hussain manage to get ready in a “momentary” fashion? Who can shower, dry themselves, decide what to wear, figure out how to get to their destination, arrive on time in a “momentary fashion.”

 Getting myself ready for a lock-down walk within a one-mile radius from my home is not something “momentary.” At minimum, I always need to check the weather forecast, find hand gel, and two masks, one to wear and one as a spare. Sometimes I check the news to see if the lock-down rules have changed since my last walk, so I do not inadvertently contravene some new lockdown rule.

I do not mean any disrespect to anyone. If I have caused offence, please believe me when I say it was just a “momentary lapse of judgement.”

 John Kohut

London, February 19, 2021