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So, that’s someone who should get fired then

The BBC double-checked whether a “senior source” at NatWest was happy for it to publish private information about Nigel Farage’s finances, The Telegraph can reveal.

Deborah Turness, the chief executive of BBC News, said the corporation was directly given the go-ahead to run a controversial story about the closure of his Coutts account.

The piece ran claims from “people familiar with the matter” that the former UK Independence Party leader was removed as a customer because he had fallen below the bank’s wealth threshold.

Privacy rules are a thing, no? And that the CEO sat next to the BBC reporter who broke the story the night before at a dinner gives us something of a clue as to who loses their job too.

But willing to make a deal here. Jail the entire board of the Post Office, 2000 AD to today, and we’ll say no more about it.

44 thoughts on “So, that’s someone who should get fired then”

  1. Surely privacy rules are not only a “thing” but a legal requirement. Presumably enforceable & breaches punishable. Fines or jail time?

  2. Bloke in North Dorset

    Whatever happened to the gold standard of double sourcing a story? Isn’t the unique way the BBC is funded meant to allow them to follow that gold standard?

  3. Farage may not be able to prove a particular individual leaked his private financial information but he can certainly prove that it came from somewhere in Coutts. Does that give him a leg to stand on in terms of legal action against Coutts?

    Also isn’t there someone inside Coutts whose job it is to look after customer privacy (which ought to be a big deal at such a bank) who’s now obliged to run an internal investigation into the leak?

  4. Surely the BBC should have asked Farage if *he* was happy for them to abuse his right to privacy?
    Or is being a friend of the tennis GOAT sufficient reason for Nigel’s “rights” to be cancelled?

  5. Jail time.

    Fining Nat West punishes only the innocent shareholders (40% taxpayers), and does nothing to penalise the guilty.

    Furthermore, Ms Leaker and the entire board should be sacked and barred from directorships, because they have not been running Nat West in the interest of the shareholders, they have been misusing shareholder funds to pursue their high-school debating society politics.
    And fine them personally for the misuse of funds.

    Journalists & managers within the BBC would also seem to be party to the conspiracy to knowuingly publish private information: arrest them too.

  6. @j77
    If the story had been true (and maybe even just if credible sources at the bank were lying through their teeth to back their story up) I think the BBC would have been justified in running the story. Farage had previously claimed Coutts were closing him down for political reasons and this had been widely reported. In theory it was valid to let Coutts get their side across even if, for privacy reasons, they weren’t able to state their “he wasn’t rich enough” reason publicly. From memory the BBC story presented the Coutts side of the story as if it were an indisputable fact, when it should have been presented as a “he says, people familiar with the situation (who are blatantly at the bank but we can’t state that) say” affair.

    News organisations are entitled to breach the privacy of people the story is about but only if certain circumstances are met (Farage having already mouthed off about Coutts did make his banking affairs fair game, and there was definitely a public interest in the role of cancel culture in financial services) and if you’ve done proper diligence on the story (which is probably where the BBC falls down, rather than the privacy issue per se).

    Requiring media organisations to get permission from the subject of their story before releasing personal information about them would be terrible step towards censorship.

  7. BBC running the story isn’t really a big problem — as others have commented. Farage is a public figure and he had made some very public allegations. BBC running the story and getting the basic facts wrong is a really big problem. A quick phonecall to Farage’s team with “a source tells us… would you care to comment?” would have left them with a lot of wiggle room to go on air with “sources say, team Farage denied/wouldn’t comment”

    As for bank employees giving out personal details of their customers (even if incorrect), that’s fire-and-never-work-in-financial-services-again territory. When it’s a director and not a lowly employee, the bank’s shareholders ought to have recourse to compensation for such egregious behaviour.

  8. Requiring media organisations to get permission from the subject of their story before releasing personal information about them would be terrible step towards censorship.

    For sure, but it’s also considered good journalistic practice to offer the subject of a story the chance to comment on the story before publication. Did the BBC apply this convention to Farage on the Countts claim?

    And why isn’t there a run on Countts bank? After this behaviour I’d have thought many account holders would want to be out. Maybe they’re all remainers.

  9. “Farage having already mouthed off about Coutts did make his banking affairs fair game”

    Maybe, possibly, maybe even probably. But I don’t see how that would release the bank from its own responsibilities, and enable them to go beyond a straightforward “no comment”*.

    “and there was definitely a public interest in the role of cancel culture in financial services”

    Definitely. Although I’m not sure whether “cancel culture” is really the right phrase, as it looks to me as the Establishment Closing Ranks. Bog standard behaviour really.

    And Coutts isn’t what it was, I don’t think they have much to offer over the private banking units of the other Big Three these days. Or even AMEX.

    It’s certainly a somewhat novel extension of the PCP/PEP regime, but one that was definitely warned about at the time. FSMA 2000 and all that jazz. I imagine Polly’s got all moist at the reach on the one-eyed Viking’s mighty shaft.

    *There’s the possibility that Unnamed Executive was being a tad stupid as the port was passing, assuming that the reporter was “one of us” and the comment wouldn’t be used, just background information.

  10. BBC running the story and getting the basic facts wrong is a really big problem.

    It’s the why it got it wrong that’s the problem. The BBC is part of the establishment and took another part of the establishment’s side in order to attack someone outside the establishment and so defend the establishment*.

    * By “establishment” I mean the cosy world of Guardian leftism that is currently dominant in government, national institutions, corporations, charities, etc.

  11. @Ducky:

    “*There’s the possibility that Unnamed Executive was being a tad stupid as the port was passing, assuming that the reporter was “one of us” and the comment wouldn’t be used, just background information.”

    Except that the Beeb went back and explicitly asked “OK to publish?”, and the source said “Yes”.

    The source is (should be) toast.

  12. *There’s the possibility that Unnamed Executive was being a tad stupid as the port was passing, assuming that the reporter was “one of us” and the comment wouldn’t be used, just background information.
    That’s neither here nor there. Doesn’t matter who’s or why, it breaches confidentially. FFS! These days banks won’t tell you things about your own account using “Data protection” as the cover all excuse.

  13. @Ducky

    “But I don’t see how that would release the bank from its own responsibilities” – clearly! I was just saying the BBC had ground, in principle, for running the story provided it met other requirements like sourcing.

    “possibility that Unnamed Executive was being a tad stupid as the port was passing, assuming that the reporter was “one of us” and the comment wouldn’t be used, just background information.” – I think the BBC have said they double-checked that their source was fine with them running the story. But I can’t find that now so may be wrong.

    Anyone curious about the original story and how the BBC have edited it, the full version history of the article is at

    https://web.archive.org/web/20230000000000*/https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-66097039

    Complicating the matter is the enthusiasm with which journalists tweeted the story and the angle their tweets took on it, of course. But Farage didn’t have a big problem with the BBC coverage itself, since he acknowledged the story came from a source the BBC would have regarded as very trustworthy. Nevertheless it’s interesting that the now edited article has put more emphasis on the sourcing than there was initially.

    The BBC coverage of their own apology is interesting too, if you know what to read into it.

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-66288464

  14. Of course a ‘proper journalist’ would have double checked*, but as it’s Al Beeb and they don’t employ any, they got stuffed. Good.

    And I wonder how Carol Kirkwood feels now that she has to lie to the public about the weather**?
    Oh, from Wiki: “she underwent training under the guidance of the BBC at the Met Office”. So she is totally with the propaganda and doesn’t care.

    *Maybe Simon Jack called the Coutts mole and said “Are you sure”?

    **Carol Kirkwood on BBC Breakfast 0700 Monday – “Catania in Scicily is expected to reach 47 degrees C”***.
    Actual temperature at 15.30 = 37 degrees C.

    *** They have started to report ‘ground temperature’ instead of the usual ‘air temperature’, without mentioning the change (same on ITV, so it’s obviously a conspiracy). As anyone who has ever been anywhere hot and sunny, the tarmac gets a lot fucking hotter than the air. And stays that way.

    Defund the fucking lot of them.

  15. Okay I’m being sense. I read that the BBC did double-check… in the Telegraph article that Tim is quoting!

    “The BBC double-checked whether a “senior source” at NatWest was happy for it to publish private information about Nigel Farage’s finances, The Telegraph can reveal.”

    So it’s there rather than in the BBC’s own output, which is why I couldn’t see it.

    So yeah, I’m very dubious of the idea this was a misunderstanding during the passing of port.

  16. @ Addolff

    There’s a concept called the ‘Noble Lie’ (a myth or a lie knowingly propagated by an elite to maintain social harmony). Or perhaps the ends justify the means.

    It’s for our own good. /sarcasm

  17. To be fair, Addolff, it’s 31° on my terrace today (air temp) but in ten minutes walk I could probably find somewhere that’s 50+. Small enclosed square surrounded by 2/3 storey building, one side getting direct sun. It’ll be the one where everyone has their windows closed. If they’re quoting ground temperatures they look far too low. You can easily get that in the UK. Our’s can get in the range 80-90 most hot days. You can quite literally cook on them. Done it with a steak on stone slab. Browns nicely in about 10 mins but doesn’t char. Leave it there too long of course, you’ve got biltong

  18. So it’s there rather than in the BBC’s own output, which is why I couldn’t see it.

    I believe this “are you sure?” part of the story comes from the BBC reporter’s apology to Farage on twatter.

  19. @BiW
    The reporter’s apology says the source was “senior” and “trusted” but I think the Telegraph’s mention of double-checking comes from elsewhere.

    @BBCSimonJack
    The headline on the Farage story has been clarified and an update posted. It should have been clearer at the top that the reason for Mr Farage’s account being closed was commercial – was what a source told the BBC. That has been corrected.
    8:52 AM · Jul 21, 2023

    @BBCSimonJack
    The information on which we based our reporting on Nigel Farage and his bank accounts came from a trusted and senior source. However the information turned out to be incomplete and inaccurate. Therefore I would like to apologise to Mr Farage.
    4:18 PM · Jul 24, 2023

  20. My mistake, it was the letter where the bbc apologised to Farage:

    “Our Business Editor, Simon Jack, was told by a senior and trusted source that the bank contested the story that you had put into the public domain – i.e. that Coutts had closed your accounts for political reasons.

    “The source said your accounts had been closed for commercial reasons. We felt this was a story of significant public interest and went back to the source to check they were happy for us to publish the information. They said they were.

    https://www.gbnews.com/news/bbc-nigel-farage-apology-letter-coutts

  21. The fact the source got a second chance to say “forget I said it, or at least for goodness sake don’t splash it about publicly” and instead told the BBC to go for it presumably makes the privacy violation even more culpable.

  22. bis @ 1.36, absolutely agree. But there are recognised standards for the siting of weather stations and those which in the past did not meet these standards were ignored. That has now been trashed and sites which were previously deemed unreliable are quoted as pristine and included in the data. That includes sites in the UK. I found ‘Surfacestations.org’ about 15 years ago, which led me on the path to enlightenment.

  23. @Addolff – even the sites that were originally good have become contaminated – usually by being surrounded by concrete, tarmac or runways.

    Doesn’t really matter though. The readings can always be adjusted as required. Who knew that recorded temperatures could be quite so changeable?

  24. Read that a lot of the U.K. record temps for local areas are from stations with a rating of only accurate to +/- 2 degrees so effectively junk data

  25. Martin Near The M25

    The media are spreading untrue stories? Oh dear. I’m sure BBC Verify will be right on this one.

  26. @BniC I can’t even begin to contemplate a thermometer having a +/- 2 degree margin of error being used anywhere but in industrial applications, like furnaces, kilns, and ceramic ovens.

    A +/- 0.2 degree margin for an old weather station that hasn’t been updated for many decades, quite possible. And accurate enough, unless you want to “prove” an average temperature rise of 0.1 degree over three decades, even though forecasts and models round to the nearest full degree because anything more accurate would be silly to begin with..

  27. “The boss of NatWest, which owns Coutts, has admitted a “serious error of judgement” in discussing Nigel Farage’s relationship with the private bank.

    Dame Alison Rose said she was “wrong” to respond to questions from the BBC about his bank account being closed.”
    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-66307353

    Now the fun and games can really begin! Hope she spoke to a good lawyer before admitting that. Even though it was obvious where it came from, it might not have been provable in court given how journalists would never name their source in this circumstance. Now it’s come straight from the horse’s mouth…

  28. So either she is guilty of breach of confidence and data protection or she’s guilty of defaming Farage? I wonder how long she’ll try to brazen it out…

  29. I’d be interested to know what would happen to an ordinary bank employee who’d done what she’s confessing to. I’d imagine instant dismissal would be just the start of it. But what then…?

  30. @MC: For as long as she continues to enjoy the Board’s full confidence, which the FT and BBC are hastening to assure us she still does.

  31. Yeah Alan. When was it that Handycock had Bunter’s full confidence? Two days before he went under the bus?

  32. Anyone condemning her is at risk of being called a misogynist.
    But it should have been bloody obvious that it was a political decision if the CEO of NatWest had been briefed, however inaccurately, on the story that its Coutts subsidiary was trying to put across for its reason to close Farage’s account. How stupid is Simon Jack? Surely not *that* stupid? So he is part of the conspiracy.

  33. @bis

    Yeah, imagine if some minor sleb made a withdrawal from a branch of NatWest and one of the staff leaked the current state of their overdraft to the tabloids the next day. How well would that end? Banks are remarkably good at stopping information about the financial affairs of famous clients from leaking, despite there being plenty of interested journalists with cash in hand. That isn’t just because banks are careful to select very quiet employees.

  34. Well one head has rolled but Howard Davies and Peter Flavel surely need to reconsider their positions this morning. Both allowed this to drift for around 3 months, unacceptable. Todays realpolitik is unlikely to be satisfied with a woman being sacrificed while two men cling on.

    The bbc will use their go-to “it was all them others” defence.

    The government have the interesting task of looking into Farage’s specific claim that 15 other banks were unwilling to accept his business.

  35. Needless to say she will be given a golden handshake and her bonus paid in full, despite being guilty of Gross Misconduct, an offence that would have had any other employee escorted from the building by security.

  36. BIS,

    “I’d be interested to know what would happen to an ordinary bank employee who’d done what she’s confessing to. I’d imagine instant dismissal would be just the start of it. But what then…?”

    Yeah. Access to all systems removed immediately. Security watching you as you empty your desk and are escorted out of the building.

    The ironic thing in this story is that when I was working for a bank a few years ago I had to do a bit of diversity training where there was a lot of emphasis about judging customers based on what they did, rather than who they were. That some Russian bloke paying lots of money in could be totally legit and you couldn’t flag them just for being Russian. But here’s Natwest deciding that Farage is just the wrong sort.

    The whole thing reeks of principle/agent problem. People at Coutts don’t want to have to deal with/meet that ghastly Nigel Farage, so cook up an official-sounding reason. I think shareholders of RBS would prefer getting Nige’s fees into their dividends, wouldn’t they?

  37. Bloke in North Dorset

    Leaving by mutual consent aka the Establishment looking after its own. After a suitable period during which all charges against her will be be quietly dropped she’ll start appearing in polite society again and be rehabilitated back in to Board positions and the like, maybe even the odd Quango or government advisory position.

  38. BinD @ 10.02, I shout at the telly everytime I see Vicky Pryce giving her expert opinion on economics. She knows far more about perjury I would suggest. Saw Huhne recently too – he must have completed his penance in the wilderness and be persona now grata back on the media gravy train.

    Never can forget Keith Best either, another parasite, last seen as PR man / front for a migrant support organsisation. At least John Profumo kept his head down.

  39. IIRC John Profumo spent the next n years quietly working as a volunteer for charities (he didn’t need money) until he died

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