Diamond gives MPs a lesson in evasiveness

PROTESTERS in Robin Hood costumes chanted their disapproval, armed police patrolled the corridors and members of the Treasury select committee limbered up for battle.

The circus was waiting for its star attraction – one Robert Diamond Jr. – to kick off the greatest show in financial regulation history.

And then the questioning began.

Hamstrung by a format that gave each of the committee’s 13 members a seven-minute slot to impersonate Paxman, we learnt a little about a lot. Mostly we learnt that Diamond is a very capable politician when it comes to not answering questions.

Chairman Andrew Tyrie began with the tone of a headmaster punishing a former star pupil – not angry, just incredibly disappointed.

But Diamond refused to dish the dirt, infuriating the committee by insisting on using their first names.

Labour’s John Mann responded by adopting the role of the angry PE teacher – “Why were you sneaking off without permission, Diamond? And what did you do with the school’s Libor rate?”

“That behaviour was reprehensible, it was wrong. I am sorry, I am disappointed and I am also angry,” was a typically detail-free response.

No one could doubt Diamond’s commitment to the bank that sacked him – he “loved” it. He loved how it is “an incredible institution”. But most of all Bob Diamond loved his £17m job at Barclays “because of the people”.

You see, everything would have been fine were it not for the “traitors”. The traitors, Bob? That’s a bit strong. Ah, it’s just the way he pronounces “traders” in that monotone drawl.

Three painful hours later he was off, still reeling from the revelations that brought down his career, still refusing to turn down a final payday, still failing to explain how the scandal occurred on his watch.

Andrea Leadsom, Conservative
“There was absolute corruption in this bank, with former staff asking their mates at Barclays to alter rates for their benefit, with traders rewarded based on the profits of their own trading books, not based on the bank’s performance.”

Andrew Tyrie, Conservative
Tyrie: “Did you receive a nod and a wink from Paul Tucker”

Diamond: “He did not give an instruction. He said there was a perception in Whitehall that our Libor submissions were high, relative to other banks’ submissions”

George Mudie, Labour
There were two chief executives running the firm over the period, and senior managers were too frightened or disinterested to speak to them. What does that say about the culture at the firm?

Bob Diamond: I prefer to see the culture as one that is willing to investigate when problems do come to light

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Michael Fallon, Conservative
Fallon: Were you shocked at senior figures asking you to fiddle Libor submissions?

Diamond: I was appreciative that Paul Tucker was trying to do his job, telling us ministers may think we had trouble funding.

Bob Diamond’s best quotes
"I was not aware that Jerry (del Missier) had a miscommunication or a misunderstanding, Jerry didn't say that to me."

"I don't know if Marcus (Agius) had conversations with regulators, that is a conversation for him to have with you, I did not discuss that with him."

“When I read the emails from those traders, I got physically ill. It's reprehensible behaviour and if you're asking me should those actions be dealt with, absolutely."

On who the senior figure in Whitehall is: “I would only be speculating and it’s not appropriate to do that. Paul didn't mention who he was referring to. I don't know, senior people.”