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Robert Peston, the BBC’s business editor, is coming under fire for his many “scoops” which according to critics helped fuel the flames of the banking crisis and led to the collapse of Northern Rock, Bradford & Bingley and HBOS.

Before joining the BBC in 2006 Peston was a successful journailist working for the Financial Times, the Daily Telegraph, the Sunday Telegraph, Sunday Independent and both the Spectator and the New Statesman.

Critics have claimed for some years that Peston has been using his contacts in the government, his father is a Labour peer, to obtain stories the breaking of which have often caused runs on shares. Peston of course denies this – well he would wouldn’t he, but not everyone is convinced.

The Serious Fraud Office is deliberating over investigating the sources of his many market-moving City scoops, a move that was instigated by Tory MP Greg Hands and backed by the shadow chancellor George Osborne. In the House of Lords the Tory peer and former cabinet minister called for a Commons select committee to investigate.

However, his father, Lord Peston, a Labour peer and emeritus professor of economics at Queen Mary College, was having none of it. Jumping to defend his son Lord Peston called him “a first-class journalist who gets his stories perfectly legitimately”.

Lord Peston (Maurice) is an archetypal left-wing Jewish intellectual. His political beliefs were formed whilst he was a student at London School of Economics from which he graduated in 1960. A Professor of Economics at Queen Mary College, Lonodn  Lord Peston has been an advisor to or member of the Labour governments of Harold Wilson, James Callaghan, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.

Robert too has been involved in Labour politics for many years. In January 2005 he published his biography of Gordon Brown Brown’s Britain which details the rivalry between Gordon Brown and the then Prime Minister Tony Blair. The book jacket states that “Peston was given unprecedented access to Gordon Brown and his friends and colleagues”. Many believe that this was the time when Peston built up a relationship with Brown and his supporters which has resulted in his many recent financial news story “scoops” at the BBC.

Whatever the truth of these allegations or suspicions the fact remains that Peston does clearly have his own agenda and is not afraid of rubbing people up the wrong way (to put it mildly). His ongoing battle with former Labour spin doctor Alastair Campbell is well documented as is his relationship with Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling. Time will tell.

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