British MPs attacked over Barclays comments

Former Barclays deputy chairman Nigel Rudd has slammed MPs for a “completely unacceptable” attack on the bank’s embattled ex-boss Bob Diamond, it was reported today.

Mr Rudd told The Sunday Times that the Treasury Select Committee failed to provide sufficient evidence to back up its claims that Mr Diamond misled Parliament in hearings over the bank’s rate-rigging scandal.

The comments come after initial findings yesterday of the Committee’s probe into the Libor fixing scandal, which concluded Mr Diamond had been “highly selective” in his evidence to MPs.

The report said Mr Diamond’s evidence on the Libor fixing scandal had fallen well short of the standards expected by Parliament.

But in a show of support for Mr Diamond, Mr Rudd – who spent 13 years on the Barclays board and is now chairman of airports operator BAA – said the accusations were an unfounded character assassination.

In an interview with The Sunday Times, Mr Rudd said: “I have never had any doubts about Bob Diamond’s integrity.

“In my time on the Barclays board I never felt he kept anything from the other directors, or gave anything other than an open and honest account of himself.

“It is one thing to attack a man’s judgment or his decisions. It is quite another to attack his integrity. I don’t believe there is any evidence that he misled parliament; he genuinely did not know the answers to the questions that were put to him.”

He added: “It is completely unacceptable to give the impression that Bob Diamond or his character is lacking in any way.”

MPs on the cross-party Commons committee took Mr Diamond to task over discrepancies between his evidence and that provided by the Financial Services Authority (FSA) and the Bank of England.

In particular, MPs were concerned at Mr Diamond’s failure to inform them of the bank’s relationship with the FSA, which was shown throughout the inquiry to have become highly strained in the run up to the Libor scandal.

Mr Diamond was quick to hit back at the Committee’s allegations in the report, saying he was disappointed and strongly disagreed with several of the Committee’s statements.

“In particular, I strongly challenge certain assertions about my testimony,” he said.

He added: “I answered every question that was put to me to me truthfully, candidly and based on information available to me.

“I categorically refute any suggestion to the contrary.”

Barclays was fined a record £290m (€369m) by regulators in the United States and UK for attempting to manipulate the interbank Libor rate, which is used to price billions of bounds of financial products around the world.

The affair has claimed the scalp of Mr Diamond and Barclays chairman Marcus Agius is leaving in November, to be replaced by David Walker.

But the scandal is threatening to engulf the entire banking industry as a raft of investigations continue worldwide.

It was disclosed last week that HSBC, Royal Bank of Scotland and Barclays were among seven banks globally that have been summoned to answer questions in the US over alleged Libor rigging.

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