Treasury select committee member and Conservative MP Andrea Leadsom has called on Chancellor George Osborne to apologise for attempting to link Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls to the Libor rigging scandal.
Leadsom said that yesterday’s evidence to the committee from Bank of England deputy governor Paul Tucker “completely squashed” the issue.
In an interview with the Spectator last week, Osborne said people close to former Prime Minister Gordon Brown “were clearly involved” in the Libor affair. He said Balls, “was City minister for part of this period and Gordon Brown’s right hand man for all of it, so he has questions to answer”.
But giving evidence to the TSC yesterday, Tucker categorically denied any minister or official had pressured him to lean on Barclays to lower its rates.
Speaking on the BBC World Tonight, Leadsom said: “[Osborne] made a mistake and he should apologise. It was a very valid discussion at the time about who knew what and it has now been completely squashed by Paul Tucker. At a personal level he will probably want to apologise.”
Labour MP and TSC member John Mann said the Chancellor had made himself look “extremely foolish”.
Osborne’s comments came in the wake of an email released by Barclays from its former chief executive to other senior members of staff which said Tucker had told Diamond that “senior Whitehall officials” were concerned about how high the bank’s Libor submissions were. Tucker told the committee that his comments should not have been seen as a suggestion to lower the bank’s Libor submissions.
In the House of Commons last week, Balls said Osborne’s comments were an attempted “smear without evidence” and called on the Chancellor to apologise. Osborne has since said Balls was not involved.
Labour MP and TSC member Pat McFadden asked Tucker whether any Government official or minister including Ed Balls from the last Government ever encouraged him to lean on Barclays or any other bank to lower their Libor submissions.
Tucker said: “Absolutely not.”