Neil Collins explains share-dealing which cost him Reuters job

Former Reuters Breakingviews columnist Neil Collins has explained the share-dealing which cost him his job in an email to his boss Hugo Dixon.

In a letter published in full on The Guardian he reveals that he added BP to his SIPP holding as the price fell. “I failed to connect my comments for Reuters – among millions of words written on BP at the time – with the purchases.”

He added that he “also realised I had failed to disclose my interest in shares that I had written about, although I had not traded them in Reuters’ 30-day ‘exclusion’ zone”.

He discovered that he had sold Marks and Spencers Shares from his late father’s estate after commenting on the company’s results.

He said: “I view this is a serious, but technical breach of the rules.”

He said: “On discovering the second breach, I felt I had no choice but to offer my resignation, which you accepted on 15 October.

“I am saddened and embarassed by my breaches of the rules and hope that you will shortly be able to draw a line under this unfortunate episode.”

Reuters has revealed that following an investigation, other journalists from Breakingviews were found to have breached its share dealing rules – but they have not lost their jobs.

Editor in chief David Schlesinger said: “”Subsequent questioning of Reuters Breakingviews staff revealed several other cases where disclosures to readers or managers could or should have been made; we are updating the archive where appropriate and will continue to investigate these instances.”

The Reuters Handbook of Journalism states:

“Before you report on a company in which you or your family has any kind of shareholding or other financial interest you must notify the interest to your manager or bureau chief.

“You must not deal in securities of any company, or in any other investment, about which you have reported in the previous month.

“If you are regarded as a specialist in a particular area of business or industry you must notify your manager or bureau chief of any financial interest you may have in that area or industry.”

Neil Collins is one of the most respected business journalists of his generation and was British Press Awards financial journalist of the year in 2002.

He took redundancy from the Telegraph in 2005 after a long run as City editor, to move into business himself and continued writing for the Evening Standard . He joined Reuters Breakingviews in 2009.

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