Yesterday, in an extraordinary act of journalistic sabotage from a state-funded BBC media platform that usually prides itself on “balance” and “objectivity” the Victoria Derbyshire Show [from 1hr 50] opted to give Buzzfeed’s James Ball 2mins, unopposed to hose down the #ToryDirtyMoney story without following journalistic protocol by going to the other side for a right of response. You can listen to an audio recording of the segment below:
Host Victoria Derbyshire opened the show with the line:
“James, these are allegations about HSBC bank funding the Conservative Party, they surfaced a while back on a blog that supports Jeremy Corbyn, what are the allegations”
To which Buzzfeed’s James Ball replies:
“Essentially the idea is HSBC lent money to a company owned by one of the parties biggest donors, the former party chairman, and that that loan, was a way of sort of secretly channelling the money to the Conservative party, so they said oh this must be improper”
Victoria Derbyshire: And James, you started looking into it, what did you find?
Ball: “People where asking why the mainstream media weren’t reporting it, an MP wrote to the Electoral Commission and quite prominent journalists started tweeting out “this theory” and so I looked in the accounts at the figures, and basically there is just nothing to it.”
Michael Spencer the donor is a very rich man in his own right, his company usually turned a profit and it did get a loan from HSBC, but it was a very standard business loan, it was at a commercial rate, and it was about £200 million and the donations to the Party were less than a million – this was just usual money to fund the party, and so we wrote that, but of course it hasn’t stopped the theory, people are just now wondering well, the mainstream media has covered it, but not in the way it was wanted. So it’s not necessarily got anything to do with the facts, its just this sense of anger – because there’s really just nothing to stand it up.”
So what are the so-called facts which Ball references here:
- The company usually turned a profit – in the 9 years between 2008 and 2016 – IPGL actually reported losses in 5 years, and profit in 4. This is false.
- The loan was a ‘standard loan’ at a commercial rate – the loan was issued on 06 October 2008, just as the banks collapsed in Iceland and other UK banks had stopped lending, just one week before the UK Government bank bailout package. The loan was secured only against shares in Spencer’s companies, and share prices (especially financials) took a major hit during the crash, because risk was significantly underpriced and investors, fearing the worst, sold. Of the £240m of assets listed on IPGL’s balance sheet in 2009, £140m – by far the largest component – was simply “goodwill.”
- Donations to the [Conservative] Party were less than £1million – actually donations from IPGL to CCHQ were £4.6m, including £2.42m in CCHQ donations over the HSBC loan period. Donations from ICAP, City Index, and Michael Spencer are additional to those shown below for IPGL Ltd. [Information via Companies House records].
Without challenging any of the false assertions from James Ball (because the BBC and Victoria Derbyshire never bothered to make contact with Move Your Money, Debt Resistance UK, or The Canary), Victoria Derbyshire concludes:
“The allegations are unfounded”
So there you have it folks – when it comes to the #ToryDirtyMoney cast as a “conspiracy theory” by Buzzfeed, move right along, there’s nothing to see here. James Ball has spoken!