Back at the beginning of February the BBC carefully picked its target, chose the perfect time and let loose hoping to mix things up for the Tories in the run-up to the election.
When the BBC and the Guardian fired a broadside at HSBC earlier this year the target was not in fact HSBC….after all HSBC’s tax avoidance story was over 5 years old and well known. To be sure one of the biggest and most successful banks in the world would be a famous scalp for the anti-business BBC and Guardianistas but they had their eyes on targets closer to home.
They knew that Stephen Green’s history as head of HSBC and his position as a Tory Peer, elevated to those dizzy heights after the HSBC tax evasion story broke, would be toxic for the Tories and fed directly into Labour’s narrative of the Tory Party protecting its Big Business friends in the City whilst cutting the benefits of the poorest and most vulnerable in Society. And so it turned out, that was exactly what happened as the sinking Miliband clutched the lifeline thrown to him and launched his own attack…
Ed Miliband has called David Cameron a “dodgy prime minister surrounded by dodgy donors”, in a row over party grandees with Swiss bank accounts.
The story was more about Stephen Green and his Tory connections than HSBC and the hoped for damage that this could do to perceptions of the Tory Party as the party of City financiers.
Which brings us to a report in the Sunday Mail…
The woman who leads the BBC is being paid a staggering £10,000 a day by the scandal-hit bank accused of helping millionaires to avoid paying tax.
The Mail on Sunday can reveal that Rona Fairhead – chairman of the BBC Trust – was paid more than £500,000 last year by HSBC for non-executive roles carried out working the equivalent of one day a week.
Last night MPs said the astonishing payment from the bank raised questions about her priorities, as it dwarfs the £110,000 salary she is paid to work the equivalent of three days a week to oversee the BBC on behalf of licence fee payers.
If the Tories were so inept or careless to make Green a Peer and employ him as a Tory minister after revelations about HSBC broke, and note it was an appointment welcomed by Labour at the time, how much more difficult must it be for the BBC to have Rona Fairhead appointed as head of the BBC Trust especially as she was chairman of HSBC’s audit committee for a long time?
Now the BBC claim ‘ “she had not taken part in any discussions about its coverage of the bank.” But the tax evasion claims have been discussed at board level within HSBC. And if the bank complains about the BBC’s reports, the Trust could be asked to adjudicate’ .
So Fairhead would be compromised in any situation where HSBC, or I suppose the Tory Party, complained about the BBC’s coverage of the story, but it also shows the BBC’s hypocrisy in attacking the Tories for making Green a minister when the BBC, so many years later and with Fairhead still employed by HSBC, and considering her actual position at HSBC as chairman of its audit committee, the BBC has her at the helm of its own regulatory body overseeing its strategy and dealing with complaints.
It’s no wonder she admitted she didn’t think the BBC was biased in the run up to her appointment…it looks like she would never have the time to watch, listen or read the BBC’s output with so many lucrative jobs under her belt.