Archive for Peter Oborne

Oborne makes a stand for journalistic integrity

Posted in Banking, Media with tags , on February 18, 2015 by Tom Leatherbarrow

Peter Oborne

What do you do if you are a journalist and your editor refuses to cover a story because it has commercial implications for the paper?

In Peter Oborne’s case you resign and you have to applaud him for it. If you’ve missed it, Oborne, Chief Political Commentator for the Daily Telegraph, resigned yesterday because of his paper’s lamentable coverage of the HSBC tax evasion story.

Launching a broadside against the editors of the Telegraph, Oborne claims that the Telegraph’s pitiful coverage, which amounted to a small column at the bottom of page 2, was due to the fact that HSBC is a major advertiser.

It’s difficult not to agree with him. I noticed last week that the Telegraph had hardly touched the story despite it being front page news for the Guardian, which broke the story, and blanket coverage across the BBC, Channel 4 News and Sky. Even The Times picked it up!

I originally thought that this was political partisanship, the Telegraph being right-leaning and the story being an embarrassment to David Cameron who appointed Stephen Green, former CEO of HSBC and an ordained minister with the Church of England, who once wrote a book about ethical banking (you can’t write comedy like this), as a Trade Minister in his government.

I was wrong. According to Oborne, advertising revenue was behind the decision and on Channel 4 News last night hinted that other stories involving HSBC, presumably the laundering of drug money, a story which broke in 2012 and the bank’s involvement in the manipulation of the London Interbank Borrowed Rate, or LIBOR, the benchmark global interest rate.

These are serious allegations for the Telegraph and the paper has hit back hard calling Oborne’s accusations “astonishing” and “sinister”.

But there are two wider issues here. Firstly, in an age of plummeting circulation rates, newspapers are increasing reliant on corporate advertising spend to keep going. Inevitably that leads to compromises and it takes a strong editor to stand up to newspaper owners when it comes to money.

Which brings me to the Barclay Brothers, owners of the Telegraph. One can’t help but wonder whether the fact that the brothers are wealthy tax exiles in the offshore tax haven of Guernsey played a role in this story effectively being spiked.

Certainly it would be in their interest to sweep this little issue under the carpet as quickly as possible, both from a personal and professional point of view. What was it that Leona Hemsley, one of the world’s great tax avoiders said, “Only the little people pay taxes”?

Is the Daily Telegraph changing sides?

Posted in Media, Politics with tags , , , on March 9, 2012 by Tom Leatherbarrow

Where do you go if you want to read a stinging rebuke of this Government? Most of us would probably automatically turn to the Guardian or the Indy, but recent months have seen a torrent of invective delivered from writers at the Daily Telegraph of all places.

The last 48 hours are a classic case in point. First Ed West, journalist and social commentator with a right leaning bent, laid into Cameron comparing him to Ted Heath no less. In Tory-land there is no lower blow than this!

Apparently, Ed, who is widely regarded as a ‘one-to-watch’ up and coming political commentator, says Cameron will lose the 2015 General Election (he’s willing to put money on it) as he refuses to come up with a coherent policy on all manner of issues from immigration through to crime.

Within minutes of Ed’s rant, James Delingpole, another up and comer, laid into Dave & Co quoting the following. “The problem is that policy is being run by two public school boys who don’t know what it’s like to go to the supermarket and have to put things back on the shelves because they can’t afford it for their children’s lunchboxes. What’s worse, they don’t care either.”

As James noted, this quote doesn’t come from Vince Cable, as you might expect, but from Nadine Dorries, Tory MP for Mid-Bedfordshire.
It gets worse for Dave. Yesterday, one of the big commentator beasts, namely Peter Oborne piled in. Whilst making a number of brilliant points (the Coalition won’t last until 2015 is the key one) he comes out in support of Vince Cable and against George Osborne.

“The fact is,” he says, “Mr Cable has a reasonably worked-out and coherent grasp of political economy, whether one agrees with it or not, and Mr Osborne does not. A large number of Tories want Mr Cable out. They are very stupid.”

So what is going on? I was fortunate to chat with Mike Foster, former Labour MP for Worcester last night and his feeling is that the Conservative Party remains furious at Cameron for not winning the last Election outright and forcing them into a coalition.

True or not (I think it is true just to get off the fence for a moment) this sort of coverage (and many of the comments posted underneath which are in broad agreement with the writers) spell trouble for Project Cameron. Not least because the latest polls show the Labour Party has a steadily widening lead in the polls.