By Ray Fleming

DOMINIQUE Strauss-Khan, the currently imprisoned managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), is innocent until he is proved guilty, as the French government insisted yesterday. Even so, it is difficult to see him continuing in his present job, let alone standing for the French presidency, given the revelations that have followed his arrest at the weekend.

So a successor at the IMF may soon be needed. Just as the President of the World Bank is usually an American, so the chief of the IMF is usually a European and there are good reasons for thinking that this practice should be continued when the IMF's role in Europe's economic recovery is proving to be so important and needs consistency.

When Mr Cameron was recently asked in a BBC interview about Gordon Brown's prospects for the job he first took refuge in saying there was no vacancy, then rubbished Mr Brown's qualifications, and then said that perhaps it was time for an Asian economist to be appointed.

Now, there is very likely to be a vacancy and Mr Cameron should quickly revise his thoughts about an appointment from outside Europe, at least for the next five years. There are several suitable candidates in Europe and Gordon Brown is thought by many to be among them. But it is difficult to see the prime minister changing his mind about that.