It was a bit like a fart in a railway carriage.
Yesterday, in front of the Commons Treasury Committee, Simon Jenkins suggested that the government engaged in ‘de facto insider trading’by leaking news of its emergency loan to Northern Rock to Robert Peston last year.
As I understand it, Jenkins’ theory is the HM Government already knew it would have to nationalise the Crock. By leaking news of the emergency loan, it hoped to drive down the company’s share price, thus minimising the cost of nationalisation for taxpayers.
If true, this would mean that HM Government manipulated Peston to defraud the shareholders of Northern Rock.
As conspiracy theories go, it’s a nice one. But somehow, I suspect that the Financial Services Authority won’t find time to investigate it.
Why? Well, for one thing, there’s Jeff Randall’s common-sensical suggestion that Crock collapsed ‘because it was a bust business’– end of story.
But I much preferred the excellent rejoinder from John Thurso MP. Turning to Jenkins, he asked: “Are you seriously saying the government had that level of competence?
Notably, the mainstream media gave Jenkins’ theory a wide berth this morning.
The only serious reference I could find to Jenkins’ allegation was carried by Metro. And that barely stretched to four sentences.
Presumably, editors recall what happened the last time a media outlet accused the government of high-level wrong-doing.
Funnily enough, it’s almost five years to the day since the careers of Greg Dyke and Gavyn Davies were terminated with prejudice in the wake of the Hutton Report.
Footnote: At the Mail this morning, Quentin Letts took the prize for Pesto-related analogy. He suggested that during the testimony, the BBC business editor’s sentences emerged from his mouth ‘like giant sausages, as long as the Humber Bridge”. Brilliant.