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28 June 2012

Will there be a Leveson inquiry for the banks?

Calls for a public inquiry grow as e-petition is launched.

By George Eaton

As outrage grows over Barclays’ manipulation of interest rates, economist Ann Pettifor (a contributor to The Staggers) has submitted an e-petition calling for an independent judicial inquiry into British banks. Here’s the full text:

We the undersigned call for an independent, judicial public enquiry into fraud, wrongdoing and ethics of British banks, their management and their staff, and the role of the British Bankers Association. The terms of reference of this inquiry should also include the manipulation of interest rates on about £225 trillion of assets. The inquiry must have full powers to compel witnesses to appear on oath, and to obtain all forms of evidence.

So far, Downing Street has responded by stating only that David Cameron welcomes the Treasury select committee inquiry. Labour, too, might be wary of supporting a judicial inquiry. While it would dovetail neatly with Ed Miliband’s support for “responsible capitalism”, an inquiry would shed further light on the regulatory failures of the last Labour government (although, as they now like to forget, the Tories favoured even greater deregulation). Ed Balls, who was City minister during the period of market abuse, and Gordon Brown, who was Chancellor, would be called as witnesses. Though both Balls and Miliband have rightly apologised for Labour’s regime of “light-touch regulation” they may feel that backing an inquiry would be an act of political masochism.

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