Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Peston picked off

Robert Peston, it seems, may be getting a dose of the scrutiny he has been afforded to the banks. The Observer reported on Sunday that Serious Fraud Office could launch an inquiry into his recent scoops. I don't have anything against Peston personally, but I do think he has shown a persistent lack of judgment in both his language and the amount of due diligence he has done before breaking stories. We’d all be staring into the abyss was his characterisation of the failure of the Lloyds/HBOS merger, for instance; while his first account of the Lloyds/HBOS deal suggested the price would be £3 a share (it turned out to be close to two). His accounts of government intervention into Northern Rock and into the wider banking system were market-moving: but did they amount to shouting `fire' in a crowded theatre? I definitely think there is a case to be answered, and I hope that he is forced to answer it. Responsible financial journalism is important; telling truth to power, more so. But telling half truths in purple prose for the purposes of self-aggrandisement is not a good thing, especially for someone with the broadcasting power of the BBC's business editor. He's also far too close to Gordon Brown to be clearly whiter-than-white independent. This is not a good state of affairs for the BBC.

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