Cable: The City is a massive cesspit

Business Secretary and Mervyn King savage culture at scandal-hit banks

The Government was under growing pressure last night to call a public inquiry into the behaviour of Britain's bankers as the Business Secretary, Vince Cable, admitted the sector was a “massive cesspit” that needed cleaning up.

Even business leaders turned on the City and demanded a cull at the top of British banks, with some investors at Barclays agitating for a management change after its £290m fine for trying to fix Libor, the rate banks charge to borrow from each other.

The Bank of England Governor, Sir Mervyn King, launched a scathing attack on the banking industry and demanded a "real change in culture".

Bob Diamond, the chief executive of Barclays, could be called before Parliament as early as Wednesday to answer questions about when he first became aware of the practice. The bank's chairman, Marcus Agius, will probably also be called to appear "if he is still in a job," sources on the Treasury Select Committee said.

Ed Miliband, the Labour leader, called for a judge-led inquiry into the industry, asserting that the problem "goes far beyond individuals". But he also singled out Mr Diamond, adding to the pressure on him to resign: "I think it's pretty clear that change is required at Barclays. It's very hard to see that being led by Bob Diamond."

The head of the Institute of Directors, Simon Walker, said it was "high time" for a "clear-out" of top bankers after a wave of scandals including mis-selling and market manipulation.

It was also reported last night that Barclays failed to act on three internal warnings, between 2007 and 2008, relating to the way it set Libor rates.