Michael Howard wants investigation into Peston scoop

Former Tory leader Michael Howard has called for the Financial Services Authority to investigate how BBC business editor Robert Peston obtained details of secret talks on Monday night between bank bosses and Chancellor Alastair Darling.

By being a good journalist, some might argue.

Bank shares plunged after Peston’s report early on Tuesday morning that the banks were seeking capital from the Government – which the bankers denied.

According to the Evening Standard, Government sources are saying that Peston was informed about the talks by a City source, and not by them.

Howard’s letter to the FSA says:

“At the beginning of the week, bank and other stocks plummeted in value following reports, principally by the BBC’s Robert Peston, which suggested that a number of banks had ‘asked’ the Chancellor for capital injections.

The regulatory announcement system exists to prevent this sort of report and its consequences. I therefore request you launch an immediate inquiry into the source of the leaked information.”

It is difficult to see what the FSA could do about Peston’s reporting. It can hardly ban financial journalists from reporting things which later turn out to be true.

Peston wasn’t the only one to report proposals for the Treasury to refinance the banks – which were only confirmed on Wednesday morning.

The Telegraph splashed with “Treasury planning to take shares in banks” on Monday.

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