Bad Week for Cameron and BBC Journalism

Tuesday, 30 November 2021

Bad Week for Cameron and BBC Journalism

It's safe to say David Cameron has had a tough week in office. After days of denials we find out that he did indeed benefit from an offshore hedge fund set up by his late father. It's an absolute disgrace isn't it? 

Well, no actually. As most already knew, it's a perfectly legal way of making an investment to gain tax efficiencies. And on taking a closer inspection it's not even that great an investment in the eyes of some tax lawyers, as James Quarmby pointed out to Naga Munchetty and Charlie Stayt in this BBC Breakfast interview last week.

So, we've learned that Cameron's dad's investment wasn't a crime and that his £31,500 windfall was all paid up in terms of tax before he even became Prime Minister. Actually, Cameron's real problem here was poor advice. What were his media team thinking?

The clever thing to do would have been full disclosure at the first sign of any questions around the Panama papers leak. It would have killed the story and Cameron could quite rightly argue that he'd done the appropriate thing (in selling prior to becoming PM) and had only benefited from an investment his father Ian had made on his behalf.

Having chosen to go after those taking part in various ‘immoral’ offshore accounting activities, the whole affair is a sorry mess for Cameron, who now looks like he has had something to hide. He hadn’t.

Watching that BBC clip raised other questions for me too though. How far have journalistic standards slipped? Naga Munchetty’s apparent lack of preparation for this particular interview to my mind is a disregard for her privileged position as a BBC journalist. She was speaking to an expert in Tax matters. The least she could have done was a little bit of homework. Instead, she seems to have jumped on the bandwagon without properly researching the subject. Her approach seemed rather smug to me and smacked of what’s now an all too familiar nod to lazy journalism.

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