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‘Any’ is the weasel word of choice for apologies

[10 Mar 2013] ‘We apologize for any inconvenience’, often uttered with just a hint of emphasis on ‘any’, has become the non-apology of choice for many organizations. It’s often heard on the railways when trains arrive late or not at all.

So when Jane Hooks’ five-year struggle to find out why her infant son had died at the hands of Doncaster and Bassetlaw Hospitals NHS Trust ended with a court settlement in her favour, it was perhaps to be expected that the Trust’s medical director would wheel out the weaselly ‘any’ from his lexicon of obfuscation and bluff:

‘We offer our deepest sympathies and apologies to Miss Hooks, Mr Bushell [her partner] and their families for ANY shortcomings in the care provided to Bobby.’

The coded message of ‘any’ is, of course, ‘we did nothing wrong but the courts are a bit of a lottery, doncha know?’. It’s time the newspapers started putting ‘any’ in bold caps to highlight this phenomenon, so we’ve shown them how it’s done.

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