The news that former National Party MP Richard Worth has been appointed honorary consul of Monaco has sent shockwaves throughout the world.
The unexpected announcement knocked the phone-hacking scandal off the front pages of all the UK’s main dailies, and the British Prime Minister David Cameron called an urgent cabinet meeting to discuss the developing story.
In Canada the news prompted a constitutional crisis, with a no-confidence vote in the House of Commons succeeding against the government of Stephen Harper, after several Conservative MPs crossed the floor to vote with the opposition.
Meanwhile, US President Barack Obama called for calm.
“We will have a better picture of this situation within the next few days,” said President Obama.
“Now, more than ever, we need people to stay calm. We need folks to stay home, make sure they’ve got plenty of food and bottled water, and wait for further information.”
But Obama’s pleas appear to have fallen on deaf ears. In cities throughout the world large crowds have been gathering.
In London’s Trafalgar Square several thousand people have assembled, waving placards and demanding action.
And in Moscow an initially peaceful gathering in the town centre turned violent when police tried to contain the crowd. Police have confirmed that three police officers were killed in the riot that ensued, together with at least a dozen protesters.
Mr Worth’s appointment has also had a profound effect on the uprising in Libya.
Reuters have reported that Muammar Gaddafi and the leaders of the main opposition groups have agreed to the formation of a national unity government, in order to deal with the chaos likely to arise as a result of the appointment
On Wall Street the Dow Jones plunged almost 8% at the news of the appointment, but markets in Europe and Japan were more cautious.
Financial analysts say the move will create uncertainty in financial markets for a few days, but say it is too early to tell whether the appointment will have serious effects.
In New Zealand, where the situation first erupted, officials do not appear to have a situation under control. Officials spoken to did not appear to know who Mr Worth was.
And even though weeks have passed since Mr Worth was made honorary consul, Prime Minister John Key claimed he had not been aware of the appointment.
Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Milton Keynes, Dr Erich von Ribbentrop, wrote in the Times on Sunday that Mr Key’s reaction was typical of someone suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Key’s treatment would involve massive amounts of therapy and medication, said Dr Ribbentrop.
In New Zealand house prices remained unaffected.