UPDATE 1-BoE suspects November policy decision was leaked to Sun newspaper
Bailey said financial market bets that the BoE would buy 150 billion pounds of assets - rather than the previously expected 100 billion pounds - had increased in the days before the Nov. 5 decision as COVID cases had risen. But he said it would be wrong to dismiss the Sun's report simply as speculation.Reuters | Updated: 24-11-2020 00:10 IST | Created: 24-11-2020 00:10 IST
Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey said on Monday that he suspected the central bank's most recent policy decision on Nov. 5 was leaked to the Sun, and that the newspaper's report was not simply speculation presented as fact. Hours before the BoE unexpectedly expanded its bond purchase programme by 150 billion pounds ($200 billion), the Sun reported the BoE would take this action, in an article that also revealed some of finance minister Rishi Sunak's spending plans.
"What we have to assume is that it was a leak and we therefore have to try to get to the bottom of it," Bailey told parliament's Treasury Committee at a regular hearing, adding that an investigation was underway. Bailey had previously been less clear about whether he viewed the report as being based on an unauthorised leak, or if he believed it was purely speculative.
Leaks of BoE policy decisions are almost unheard of, but a series of government decisions on COVID measures, including economic support, have been reported by newspapers ahead of their official announcement. A senior finance ministry official attends BoE policy decisions, and Sunak must approve asset purchase decisions.
On the day of the announcement, a government spokesman said any leak was a matter for the BoE. Bailey said financial market bets that the BoE would buy 150 billion pounds of assets - rather than the previously expected 100 billion pounds - had increased in the days before the Nov. 5 decision as COVID cases had risen.
But he said it would be wrong to dismiss the Sun's report simply as speculation. He said there was no parallel with a case late last year where a company broadcast audio from the BoE's public news conferences faster than the official video feed, without the BoE's permission.
Britain's Financial Conduct Authority concluded the company's actions did not amount to financial misconduct, although the BoE severed ties with the company, which it said had abused access to the video feed. ($1 = 0.7511 pounds)
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