Telegraph's Peter Oborne says he feels 'sick' over alleged failings of paper's HSBC coverage

Oborne accused The Telegraph's owners of suppressing coverage of certain stories for fear of losing advertising revenue

Roisin O'Connor
Wednesday 18 February 2015 11:10

Former Telegraph journalist Peter Oborne has said that "poor editorial judgement" has been exercised at the newspaper he stepped down from.

Following his announcement that he had resigned from his position as The Telegraph's chief political commentator, Oborne appeared in a strongly-worded interview on BBC Radio 4, where he repeated his comments that the paper had "failed" its readers in its alleged underreporting of the HSBC scandal.

"As a journalist it makes you feel sick," he said.

Oborne wrote about his resignation in a blog on the openDemocracy website on 17 February, where he accused his bosses of appeasing Chinese interests and claimed that they removed critical pieces on China.

A cached version of the original HSBC story that the Telegraph has since taken down
What the link looks like now on the Telegraph website

He also alleged that as a result of a 2012 investigation into accounts held by HSBC in Jersey, reporters were "ordered to destroy all emails, reports and documents related to the HSBC investigation". He claimed that at this stage, "in a remarkable departure from normal practise… lawyers for the Barclay brothers became closely involved".

The journalist quoted a conversation with Murdoch MacLennan, chief executive of Telegraph Media Group, whom he said freely admitted that advertising was allowed to affect editorial at the paper.

Speaking on Radio 4, Oborne said The Telegraph "must call an independent review" and a "full assessment of the relationship between advertising and editorial".

He then referred to a report in the Guardian which said that HSBC allegedly put its advertising with the paper’s parent company, Guardian News and Media, “on pause” while discussions were ongoing over the publication of the latest HSBC revelations.

"It looks to an outsider very much as if it is using advertising as a tool to supress free speech," Oborne said. “They need to explain why they suspended their advertising in the Guardian last week and in The Telegraph."

"A fraud is being perpetrated on Telegraph readers who buy the paper, expecting to get the news," he continued, "and instead get something that gives the impression that it’s been vetted by the advertising department."

The Independent has contacted The Telegraph and HSBC for comment. Yesterday The Telegraph called Mr Oborne’s attack "full of inaccuracy and innuendo” and denied that its editorial judgment had ever been compromised by commercial imperitives.

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