Jersey has been dragged into another scandal after the Telegraph’s top columnist resigned from the paper with a blistering attack over editors covering up stories about HSBC’s tax avoidance using Jersey accounts.
Coverage of Peter Oborne’s resignation was prominent in national papers this morning after he sensationally quit his job with an attack on his former bosses for not running stories about HSBC’s work in Jersey for fear of losing advertising revenue from the bank.
He has claimed that an investigation into HSBC accounts in Jersey was shelved by editors, and that the team working on the story were told to destroy all of their notes, documents and emails on the subject. Mr Oborne – one of the UK’s most popular newspaper columnists – said that lawyers for the Brecqhou-based Barclay brothers, who own the Telegraph, had been “closely involved” in the decision.
The Telegraph has dismissed Mr Oborne's criticisms as inaccurate, saying that the divide between the advertising and editorial elements of the paper were "fundamental".
Amidst a host of criticisms of the Telegraph’s management and the new “Head of Content” Jason Seiken, Mr Oborne wrote: “Three years ago the Telegraph investigations team—the same lot who carried out the superb MPs’ expenses investigation—received a tip off about accounts held with HSBC in Jersey. Essentially this investigation was similar to the Panorama investigation into the Swiss banking arm of HSBC. After three months research the Telegraph resolved to publish. Six articles on this subject can now be found online, between 8 and 15 November 2012, although three are not available to view.
“Thereafter no fresh reports appeared. Reporters were ordered to destroy all emails, reports and documents related to the HSBC investigation. I have now learnt, in a remarkable departure from normal practice, that at this stage lawyers for the Barclay brothers became closely involved. When I asked the Telegraph why the Barclay brothers were involved, it declined to comment.”
This morning, the Telegraph responded by saying that Mr Oborne's attack was full of inaccuracy and innuendo and rejected his criticisms.
A Telegraph spokesperson said: “Like any other business, we never comment on individual commercial relationships, but our policy is absolutely clear.
“We aim to provide all our commercial partners with a range of advertising solutions, but the distinction between advertising and our award-winning editorial operation has always been fundamental to our business. We utterly refute any allegation to the contrary. It is a matter of huge regret that Peter Oborne, for nearly five years a contributor to the Telegraph, should have launched such an astonishing and unfounded attack, full of inaccuracy and innuendo, on his own paper.”
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