Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Peston's unconvincing denial

The BBC reports that its Business editor Robert Peston has told MPs he does not believe his reporting led to the collapse of Northern Rock. When you dig into Peston's denial, he hasn't really denied anything.

Mr Peston broke the story of the bank asking for emergency funding from the government in September 2007.

He has been criticised for causing the run on Northern Rock that followed.

But he told the Treasury select committee he had acted responsibly in reporting the facts, which were from multiple sources and had been checked.


Mr Peston said he had never held off from reporting a story he knew to be true to serve a wider interest.
No problem with that last bit, but it's quite an admission, not any kind of denial. In fact, Peston is claiming that his report wasn't responsible for the "retail" run on the bank:

He said the bank had a flawed business model and there were other "structural reasons" why it was vulnerable, such as its policy of keeping its number of branches to an "absolute minimum" in relation to its number of customers and its lack of computer server capacity, which made its website crash.

"Savers become anxious because they simply could not find out from the institution what was going on," he told the committee.

But in any case,

Mr Peston said the bank's collapse had not been caused by the queues of customers demanding their money back but a "wholesale run, " with other institutions refusing to fund it.

"Northern Rock, frankly, would have collapsed, it would be where it is today, irrespective of whether there had been that retail run," he said.

It wasn't wot killed her guv, and even if it was me, she would have died anyway.

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