Amidst reports this morning linking him to the Libor scandal, Ed Balls today said he is “very happy” to appear before a full banking inquiry, attacking the “false allegations” levelled against him. He also said he “can’t understand” why ministers are “so worried” about the prospect of an inquiry.
Asked if we was “nervous” about what disgraced former Barclays chief Bob Diamond may reveal to Parliament this afternoon, he told BBC News:
“Not at all. I am obviously keen to understand exactly what has happened and I think we will need to hear from Mr Tucker, the deputy Governor, to the Treasury Committee as soon as possible to understand exactly what has happened here, but for my part no not at all.”
Adding of whether there were any calls from the Treasury to the Bank of England to tell Barclays they should alter the Libor rate:
“I have no idea because at the time I wasn’t in the Treasury. What I can say to you categorically, because there have been some false allegations made about this overnight, for political reasons as always, that at no point did I have any conversation with Mr Tucker at all at any time when I was a Treasury minister, a Treasury adviser, or subsequently to that when I was a Cabinet minister.
“And I had no conversation with anybody about the Libor market during any of those periods and at no point in any of the time when I was a Minister or an adviser were concerns raised about the Libor market from the FSA, the Bank or the Treasury to me. So the allegations which are made and have been repeated, at least on one occasion on the BBC, are entirely false, without foundation.”
“I’m afraid it is the nature of politics that you deal with these things, but the idea that I have an issue on this or that I should be nervous this afternoon is completely false and untrue and I am very happy to say that categorically to you and would be very happy to say that categorically to an inquiry.
“The thing which I can’t understand is why government ministers are now so worried about having a full independent and judicially-led inquiry to answer these matters.”
Elsewhere, there are reports the government is considering offering ground on the scope and scale of any inquiry – though it is still adamant it will be a Parlaimentary inquiry and not a judicial one.
The Libor scandal is sure to dominate Prime Minister’s Questions, starting shortly, with Bob Diamond’s appearance before the Treasury select committee scheduled for 2:15. We will have more on all today’s developments later today on Left Foot Forward.