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The question

Australian MP Mark Latham is unrepentant this week, after his description of prime minister John Howard (below) as an 'arse-licker' sparked calls for his sacking.

So we ask: What is the best insult you have had levelled at you in your professional career?

When a salesman took over as chief operating officer of our company he decided to take away all the 'engineer' titles and replace them with 'network assistant'.

Senior engineer became senior network assistant overnight, and so on. How about that for an insult?

Alastair McMurtrie, 45 , network operations manager, Glasgow The best one I have received was in response to a public consultation, when I was told the council that I work for 'will never get anything right while they've got holes in their a***s.'

Ruth Goudie, 43, area traffic engineer The worst and most unbelievable language that I have heard ran something along the lines of: 'thanks for all the hard work that you have put in to the project, and for all that extra unpaid time you put in. I really appreciate it.'

David Frankl, 51, consultant, Buckinghamshire I once worked on a site, many years ago where the site agent replied, in writing, to the resident engineer's letter, describing the contents as 'a load of bo****ks'. Many of the general foremen weren't too complimentary about the junior engineers either but that was just part of the job, wasn't it?

Andy Dunhill, 41, partner, Sheffield Someone once called me an architect. I eventually found it in my heart to forgive them.

Steve Whipp, 48, assistant head of water and wastewater services Working in the international civil service (that's what people working for International Labour Organisation and the like call themselves), the use of bad language is not encouraged.

Something to do with diplomacy I think. Even the appearance of the words 'extremely urgent' in a memo can create waves of resentment resulting in weeks of paralysis on the part of the recipient.

James Markland, 45, chief technical adviser, Maputo Someone once called me a planner - I don't think insults come worse than that.

Andrew Fraser, 52, engineer, Stirling

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