HSBC tax scandal: Classic FM and Capital owner Global Radio advised stations not to report story

The station cited "editorial reasons"

Kashmira Gander
Tuesday 19 May 2015 17:15 BST
HSBC was found to have helped customers conceal assets and dodge taxes earlier this year
HSBC was found to have helped customers conceal assets and dodge taxes earlier this year

Global Radio, Britain’s largest commercial radio group, advised its stations not to report on the HSBC tax scandal when it first came to light, it has emerged.

The bank became engulfed in controversy earlier this year, over revelations that its Swiss arm helped its wealthy customers to conceal millions of dollars in assets and dodge taxes.

At the time, Ashley Tabor, the founder and executive president of Global Radio told members of the group - which includes Capital, Classic FM, Heart, LBC, Smooth, XFM and Gold - to shelve the story on the morning of 9 February, Private Eye reported.

The stations then picked up the story “some days later”, according to an inquiry by broadcast regulator Ofcom reported by the newspaper.

Private Eye has accused Mr Tabor of making the decision because his father held a number of accounts with the bank’s Swiss arm.

However, Jon Heasman, Ofcom’s radio licensing manager, wrote in an email seen by Private Eye: “It [Global] provided Ofcom with editorial reasons why it had taken this decision.

“We were satisfied that there was no evidence of any third party influencing Global’s decision on this matter, or any evidence that the independence of its news coverage had been compromised,” he added.

The apparent block comes after The Independent Press Standards Organisation (Ipso) launched an investigation into claims the Daily Telegraph bowed to commercial pressure and did not report on the HSBC tax scandal.

The allegations came to the fore when former chief political commentator Peter Oborne resigned from the newspaper, and claimed it had carried out a “fraud on its readers” by deliberately ignoring the story.

Peter Oborne resigned from The Telegraph earlier this year (Getty Images)

Comment: The Telegraph only has itself to blame

However, the Daily Telegraph responded with a statement which said that the “distinction between advertising and our award-winning editorial operation has always been fundamental to our business.”

“We utterly refute any allegation to the contrary,” it added.

The Independent has contacted Global Radio for a comment on the situation.

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