FT editor hits back at Neil's 'bloomer hat-trick' slur

Gower: responded to Neil’s claims in letters to Standard and Scotsman

Financial Times editor Andrew Gowers has responded to accusations by Andrew Neil that his paper’s reporting is “increasingly unreliable”.

In his media column, which runs in both the Evening Standard and The Scotsman, Neil attacked the FT for “a hat-trick of page-one bloomers”.

These involved stories about Vodafone leading the bidding in a takeover for AT&T Wireless; a possible bid by US businessman Malcolm Glazer for Manchester United; and Scottish & Newcastle severing its brewing interests in Scotland and Newcastle.

Gowers responded in letters to the Standard and The Scotsman.

He pointed out that in the AT&T case: “Cingular came in with a higher bid and the auction was over.”

Gowers argued: “No newspaper in the western world caught this development since it happened after final deadlines in the US. We caught it very rapidly on our website, thus ensuring our readers were perfectly wellinformed as the UK working day began.”

He also said the FT had it on “impeccable” authority that Commerzbank had been instructed by Glazer to examine a bid for United.

He said it was true that S&N was to close its Edinburgh brewery and was considering outsourcing production of Newcastle Brown Ale in Gateshead.

In his column, Neil had said: “All newspapers make mistakes but three page-one mistakes in a row is a bit much for what is meant to be the City’s bible – and the FT never put its hands up to any of them.

“They are also somewhat embarrassing given that FT editor Andrew Gowers penned a signed piece in the aftermath of the Hutton Report lecturing the BBC on the need for greater accuracy.”

Neil added: “The City is awash with talk of the FT’s growing reputation for inaccuracy.”

Gowers, in his letters, commented: “Mr Neil is entitled to his opinions.

But they should be based on facts. And your readers will know that as a publisher of a UK business weekly he is scarcely a disinterested party.”

By Hamish Mackay

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