Robert Peston meets critics in Northern Rock home town

BBC business editor Robert Peston has visited Newcastle to discuss the collapse of Northern Rock and the local reaction to his scoop in September 2007.

“It did occur to me that it would be a really good idea to actually go up and meet some of the people who were quite critical of me more than a year ago when I disclosed that the local bank was in serious difficulties,” he told Newsnight (on iPlayer for next seven days, from 32 minutes).

He met critics including Emma Foody, who was due to join the Northern Rock graduate scheme before the news broke. She blamed Peston for “creating a kind of hysteria”.

But Peston told her: “I absolutely believe that my broadcast made absolutely no difference to where Northern Rock ended up.”

Next up was former Northern Rock employee Dennis Shannon and his wife Doreen, who owned shares in the bank that fast became worthless.

“I can tell I’m not going to persuade you that I behaved responsibly,” he said.

“I did think I did behave responsibly and I did review it many many times.

“On a personal level I can completely understand why you’re furious.”

Peston added: “You can’t help but be upset when you see somebody in the case of Doreen who was really shattered by the experience of losing their little nest egg.”

Richard Moss, the presenter of the BBC Politics Show in the North East and Cumbria, told Newsnight: “There are people who feel that he revels in bad economic news, that he has a sort of enthusiasm for it that puts them off.

“When jobs are on the line, when people’s livelihoods are at stake, they find that uncomfortable.”

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