Blame the system not the journalist for the Evening Standard’s Budget leak
READERS of the London Evening Standard knew what was in the Chancellor’s Budget before George Osborne had adressed Parliament.
Editor Sarah Sands made a statement:
“An investigation is immediately underway into how this front page was made public and the individual who Tweeted the page has been suspended while this takes place. We have immediately reviewed our procedures. We are devastated that an embargo was breached and offer our heartfelt apologies.”
Tough on the tweeter, no? But Sands is “devastated“.
The Standard’s political editor Joe Murphy added, via Twitter:
I wish to apologise for a very serious mistake by the@EveningStandard earlier which resulted in our front page being tweeted. We are so sorry to the House of Commons, to the Speaker and to the Chancellor for what happened. We shall be apologosing to them
Damian McBride offers a view:
As for the Standard themselves, if the Treasury choose to divulge that level of information and do so too early in the day, what are they meant to say? “Hold on, I think you’re telling me too much too soon”. Of course not. And it’s the telling of too much too soon that’s caused the problem – not the long-standing arrangements that I’ve described, or even the Standard’s cock-up in posting their splash online – so I hope no-one in the Treasury will think about abandoning those arrangements as a consequence, and I hope no-one at the Standard is in any trouble tonight.”
Quit right. If you don’t want leaks, don’t tell anyone too much.
The BBC has produced a list of Budget leaks:
In 1936 Jimmy Thomas, a Cabinet minister, was found guilty by a Tribunal of Inquiry of leaking Budget proposals to Sir Alfred Butt, Conservative Member of Parliament for Balham and Tooting.
It was also believed that Thomas had divulged Budget secrets to a friend and business associate, Alfred Cosher Bates for personal gain.
Thomas resigned from Baldwin’s government, and then, shortly afterwards, resigned his Commons seat.
Kenneth Clarke – 1996
Kenneth Clarke’s final Budget in November 1996 was leaked almost in its entirety, on the eve of its presentation, to the Daily Mirror newspaper. The Mirror refused to publish the contents, conscientiously returning it to the Treasury.
The chancellor’s Budget decisions are supposed to be totally secret before his speech. During former Chancellor Gordon Brown’s time at Number 11, he installed a system of briefing for the press around his pre-Budget Statement.
In 2005 Gordon Brown leaked his whole budget to the Standard:
“My Budget will show that we are meeting our fiscal rules, our spending plans are fully affordable and we are taking no risks with stability. And today the British people will see it is only this government which can maintain that hard won stability, make the necessary investment to equip Britain for the long-term economic challenges and continue to put Britain’s hardworking families first.”
Who needs investigative reporting when they just dish it up?