Barclays boss Jes Staley fooled by emails from prankster posing as John McFarlane

Caitlin Morrison
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Barclays chair John McFarlane has been impersonated by an online prankster (Source: Getty)

Barclays chief exec Jes Staley will be looking forward to a drink tonight - it's been one tough week for the banking boss.

On Wednesday, Staley was forced to apologise to shareholders at Barclays' annual general meeting (AGM) over his attempts to identify a whistleblower, an incident for which he is currently being investigated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Bank of England’s Prudential Regulation Authority.

McFarlane defended Staley as investors stood up at the AGM to criticise his behaviour, so perhaps it's understandable that when Staley received a series of supportive emails later that evening from someone posing as Barclays chairman John McFarlane, he fell for it hook, line and sinker.

The emails, seen by the Financial Times, were sent from - an address may have given some pause for thought, but Staley had a lot on his mind at the time, so the oversight is understandable.

What followed was a telling insight into the relationship between the two Barclays bosses - which is really quite sweet.

The first message from Fakey McFarlane read as follows:

Subject: The fool doth think he is wise

Mason-Mahon is as brusque as he is ill informed.

However I do feel we’ve ceased the rally for you [sic] head today.

Surely the fickleminded nature of the angry few will help tie up any loose ends.

You owe me a large Scotch.


Staley replied:

You are a unique man, Mr McFarlane.

You came to my defense today with a courage not seen in many people. How do I thank you?

You have a sense of what is right, and you have a sense of theatre. You mix humor with grit.

Thank you John. Never underestimate my recognition of your support. And my respect for your guile.

And some day I want to see an ad lib guitar run. You have all the fearlessness of Clapton.

Thank you.


The imposter then wrote:

What else would Mack the Knife do but support those he can trust in!

Begs the question, who should we seek to silence next!?

Onward, to bigger, and better things.

I may have already had a stiff one, it’s been a long day, and I get no younger.

Clapton has nothing on me ha!

Staley obviously has a high opinion of his chairman's skills on the axe:

I bet he doesn’t.

"McFarlane" then offered his help with any other "fires/thorns you want me quelling over the next few days", before sending Staley a poem in which the first letters of every line spelled out the word 'whistleblower'.

In all seriousness, do let me know what fires/thorns you want me quelling over the next few days.

It’s important I stand fast, and alongside you.

You have carried yourself admirably today.

As I retire for the night, I’m reminded of a poem my father was awfully fond of. It seems very apt.

Good night, Jes.

Worry not of tomorrow’s end

Hurry not towards falling trees

Ignore at once, the jesters dance

Sigh, oh sigh, at the folly foiled

Take down the mighty route of ills

Lest not make a scratch in time

Evenhanded wins fair stance.

Broken wooden spoons we take

Left, oh left, in such a state

Over crests and furrowed field

Wirey talons arching back

Empty roosts the plagued aspise

Revel in their bloodied eyes

We fight on.

Staley's final reply was short and to the point - suggesting he may be accustomed to receiving poetry from McFarlane.

Thanks for sharing the foxhole.



Barclays declined to comment.

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