Yesterday’s three-hour grilling of Bob Diamond has done nothing to change the minds of those calling for an independent judge-led inquiry.
Yesterday’s three-hour grilling of former Barclays chief executive Bob Diamond at the hands of the Treasury select committee has done nothing to change the minds of those calling for an independent judge-led inquiry.
Although there were some heated moments, very little useful information arose from Diamond’s questioning, raising concerns about MPs’ ability to conduct the much-needed investigation into the Libor scandal.
The Telegraph reports:
Several members of the Commons Treasury Select Committee have admitted that the banking chief was able to get away with evasive and “implausible” answers during a three-hour appearance before them yesterday.
Their task seemed to be made more difficult by the format of the select committee session, which saw MPs limited to a set number of questions before they were forced to hand over to a colleague pursuing a different line of attack, which often seemed to allow Mr Diamond to slip out of traps laid for him.
Labour has called for a judge-led full public inquiry, which would involve a barrister questioning witnesses under oath. However, David Cameron has insisted that such a forum would take too long, arguing that the public wanted a shorter probe, which a parliamentary inquiry could deliver, with answers to the question of what went wrong provided by the end of the year.
Quentin Letts from the Daily Mail however, felt MPs gave Diamond an adequate “pummeling”. He said:
Barclays Bob tried to smarm them, tried to tell them he was ‘shocked’. He even pulled the I-knew-nothing gambit. The Commons Treasury committee did not believe him. To put it in language this Yankie banker might understand, MPs did not ‘buy’ him.
They gave him a rumbling pummelling. Parliament exists to voice public opinion. Mr Diamond was confronted by a contained fury. Here was Parliament as the public square, giving vent to society’s dignified disgust.
Many calls for a judge-led inquiry stem from fears that the debate has become politicised.
According to Labour leader Ed Miliband, the chancellor’s actions are showing a judge-led inquiry is needed:
“Throughout the last week George Osborne has just played politics with this issue.
“In a way [Osborne] is making a great case as to why we should not have a parliamentary inquiry and we need a judge-led inquiry independent of politics. If anything proves it, it is George Osborne’s behaviour – flinging around accusations about the last Labour government.”
On Left Foot Forward yesterday, Shamik Das wrote:
“If Osborne is so certain in his accusations, why not allow a full, judge-led inquiry grill those he’s accused? Given the repeated calls from Miliband and Balls for such an inquiry they don’t fear one – unlike Osborne and Mr Cameron.”
The longer the government try to put off an independent inquiry, the more people will begin to question what it is they are trying to hide.